Document Dilemma – How Long Do You Keep Those Papers?

This blog post discussing how long to keep documents was originally published by Jennifer back in 2010. It’s a popular post as tax time is wrapping up. Since April 15th is Tuesday(!), take a moment to read up on how long to keep documents. There may be quite few papers you can dispose of (ppssstt…. we are hosting our annual FREE recycle and paper shredding event June 14th. Bring those docs over to our office that Saturday to securely shred them!).

Ahhhh…the end of tax time. Now that you’ve filed another year’s return, it’s time to sort through that stack of old paperwork and shred what you can. Here are some quick tips on what you should keep and for how long…


Tax Returns: 7 years. This includes but is not limited to W-2 and 1099 forms, mortgage interest statements, property tax records, brokerage statements, and canceled checks or receipts for all deductions.


Home or Condo Sales: 6 years. Keep your HUD statement and other records documenting the sale.


Paycheck Stubs: 1 Year until you receive your annual W-2 from your employer. After confirming that the information on the stubs matches the W-2, shred the stubs. (If it doesn’t match, alert your employer immediately and get a corrected W-2, known as a W-2c).


IRA Contributions: Indefinitely. Make sure you keep the records if you make a nondeductible contribution to an IRA. When the time comes to withdraw funds, you will have proof that you’ve already paid taxes on this money.


Retirement/Savings/Investment Statements: Until you retire or close the account. Keep monthly or quarterly statements until you receive the annual summary, confirm that the statement amounts match up, then shred the monthlies or quarterlies.

Consumer Reports published a similar article that includes information on a broader range of documents, along with two helpful charts on what documents to keep at home and what documents to store in your safety deposit box.

We’d love to hear how you conquer the paper piles as you finished up tax season. Please share in the comment section below.

One thought on “Document Dilemma – How Long Do You Keep Those Papers?

Comments are closed.