Retaining paper files of your personal records seems almost antiquated in 2015—particularly when you’re relying on a single filing system stored in an old filing cabinet. Digitally copying paper files, and storing them to the cloud, will help you keep track of your information and sanity. Jazmine.com can help you scan and store everything from financial records to passport information, medical records and real estate paperwork. If you are in danger of being audited, run your own business, or are responsible for an estate, strongly consider digitally storing all records. In our current world, where identity theft seems rampant, securing these records in an online service can save you time, stress, and money.
But even in the best maintained digital and physical files, people don’t often think about streamlining their storage by throwing things out. While some paperwork—like birth certificates and passports—should never be thrown away, other documents can be shredded or safely disposed of after a certain period of time. Keep in mind—you should evaluate any risk factors before throwing out personal records.
Keep These for One Month
Any Sales Receipts should be kept for a month, along with ATM Printouts, in case you require proof-of-purchase when a discrepancy shows up on a bank or credit account. If the receipts are for items purchased for a business, keep them for 3 years for tax purposes.
File These for One Year
Paycheck Stubs should remain on file for a year, and can be discarded once you compare with a W2 and annual social security statement.
Utility Bills can be thrown out after a year as well, unless you have a home office, then keep copies of these bills for 3 years after the tax return has been filed.
Quarterly Investment Statements can also be discarded after one year, or until they can be compared to an annual statement.
Any Bank Statements, Credit Card Receipts and Cancelled Checks can be tossed after you’ve held on to them for one year, unless they’re needed for tax purposes. In that case, keep them for at least 3 years. Consult an accountant if you’re not sure.
Keep These for Three Years
Income Tax Returns are vital for your personal financial safety, because you can be audited by the IRS, for pretty much no reason, up to 3 years after you’ve filed a return. Omitting at least 25% of your gross income from a return raises that to 6 years, and if you skip a year’s return, you could be audited at any point (no limitations). With that in mind, keep your returns for a minimum of 3 years.
Any Real Estate Records or Selling Stocks should also be kept for 3 years, as documentation for capital gains tax. And even though you receive an Annual Investment Statement for every tax season, you should keep those going back 3 years as well.
Aside from Medical Bills, which should obviously be held on to for at least three years (if not longer), Receipts and other Documents Supporting Income or a Tax Deduction need to be kept for 3 years from the date the return was filed.
Finally, items like Cancelled Health Insurance Policies and Cancelled Checks should be kept for the 3 year minimum.
Make Sure You Hold On to These Documents for the Life of the Asset
Depending on how long your asset is scheduled to last, you may keep the following records for several years, decades, or even a lifetime.
Insurance Documents and Records of Pensions and Retirement Plans are important pieces of information that may need to be accessed should you or a loved one become ill.
It’s also a good idea to keep Contracts, whether ongoing or fulfilled, for the majority of your business venture.
Other important items to keep for the asset’s lifespan include Stock Certificates and Stock Records, Property Ownership Records and Property Tax Records Disputed Bills. If nothing else, retain copies of the bill handy until the dispute has been resolved.
Records of Home Improvement should be held for at least 3 years after the tax return that includes the income or loss on the asset when it’s sold. Satisfied Loans, whether attached to home buying, student loans or any other type of federal / personal loan, should be kept for a minimum of 7 years, if not longer.
Keep These Important Documents Forever
A marriage may not last forever, but a record of it (i.e.: Marriage Licenses) should be kept forever. Other sensitive and highly-important documents to keep for a lifetime include Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, Wills, Adoption Papers and Records of Paid Mortgages.
Sources: IRS.gov | Jazmine.com
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