How Long Do I Have to Keep My Tax Records?

Phew! April 18th has come and gone. Whether you looked forward to receiving a big refund or dreaded it because you had to pay, tax day is over. At least until next year.

But now, even with electronic filing, you probably have plenty of paper records in a filing cabinet somewhere. Years and years of forms, receipts and documents. One of the most common questions surround tax documents is “How long do we have to keep them?”

The answer: it depends.

If you’re still hanging on to files from 1990’s, you’re certainly safe to shred. In fact, 3 years is the recommended length to keep tax documents in most cases. But there are other situations when you should keep them longer (such as if you filed a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction). You can review the list of IRS guidelines here, or contact a trusted CPA for specific questions about what and how long to keep files.

It can be scary to shred documents (what if I need these later)? However, it can be even scarier NOT to shred them. Paper files create a security risk. Personal information can get into the wrong hands. Papers could be lost or stolen. Your financial information may have changed in the last ten years, but your social security number hasn’t. You still need to protect your personal information.

The safest thing is to destroy documents you no longer need. And when it’s time to do that, make sure you partner with a professional. You can bring them into an on-site shredder, such as Tristar’s Walk-In Shredding, or arrange for a one-time service if you don’t already have a regularly scheduled service in place.

For more information about document shredding contact Tristar today.

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