Phew, our taxes are finally done. With all the sickness and craziness in our house these past couple of months, I wasn't sure if we would meet the tax filing deadline of April 15th. Have you done your taxes yet? Or, are you one of the few that like to wait until the last minute to rush around and find a post office to drop them off at? :-) Now that the dreaded tax season is over, I am left with piles and piles of documents, receipts, etc. to go through. Hmm, which to save and which to shred. Do you know what can be tossed each year after taxes and what should be held on to, and for how long? Here is a list that I stumbled upon from Branch Banking and Trust Company and have found helpful. This list will help you and I organize our documents, and put together those to be shredded, to either shred yourself or bring to a local Shred Day Drop Off location, now that the dreaded Tax filing season is behind us (hopefully!)
Item retention guidelines and disposal
|Tax information & returns||There is a general three year statute of limitation for your taxes. This means the IRS has three years from when you file your return to start an audit. (There is no limit for fraudulent returns). Therefore, you need to keep documents that support items on your tax returns for those three years. Each year you can throw out the three year old documents, but you should keep copies of tax returns forever.||Shred|
|Investment records & statements||Investment records must be kept to support your tax returns. Documentation of purchases and sales (either confirmations or brokerage statements including the information) must be kept for three years past when you report the sale on your tax return. You may find it helpful to keep brokerage statements for many years.||Shred|
|Bank statements & canceled checks||Some people keep every canceled check and others toss most of them. Certainly you should keep canceled checks that support any tax deductions and any that you think may come in handy. Otherwise, canceled checks can take up a lot of space. Bank statements are a bit different. You may want to keep them for some period (three years or so) so you can document your payments for important items. Together with your checkbook register, you would be able to identify when and how much you paid for almost anything.||Shred|
|Paycheck stubs||These documents can include very important information including Social Security number and financial institution account numbers if you use direct deposit. You may need to have the last three month's stubs if you are planning to apply for a loan. Otherwise, you should only keep the latest stub.||Shred|
|ATM receipts||Keep ATM receipts until you have compared them with your bank statement. Then dispose of them carefully.||Shred|
|Credit card statements||Even though there is no requirement to keep these statements, you may want to save them for some period (a year) in case there is a dispute, you want to return an item or if you want to be able to analyze your spending.||Shred|
|Credit card receipts||Generally keep receipts until you have compared them to your credit card statement. However, if the receipt is for something that you may want to return, keep it longer.||Probably shred|
|Utility bills and other household receipts||Unless you are claiming household expenses as tax deductions, there is no need to keep these types of records very long. You can always use a canceled check to document payment.||Probably safe to toss in trash.|
|Warranties||Keep warranties for as long as you own the item or until the warranty period expires.||Probably safe to toss in trash.|
|Insurance||Insurance policies and claims information should be kept for as long as the policy remains in effect.||Shred|
|Home financial information||Deeds, mortgages and information on home improvements should be kept for as long as you own the home plus the three year period for tax purposes.||Shred|
|Personal documents and pictures||This is your personal preference||Shred anything containing sensitive information and private pictures.|
Permanent filesDocuments to keep forever include wills, powers of attorney, birth certificates, marriage documents, divorce or child care orders, trust documents, business agreements, military records and other such permanent records.
Electronic data files with personal informationFloppy diskettes and CDs should be shredded, destroyed or made unusable in some manner. Computer hard drives deserve special attention. Hard drives may have information on finances, taxes, user names, passwords and other information that should not fall into the hands of fraudsters. Deleting files and formatting a hard drive does not permanently remove the files from the system. Before disposing, recycling or donating a PC, the hard drive should be removed and physically destroyed.
I don't know about you, but I never felt comfortable bringing trash bags full of personal documents to a local Shred Day. I guess I am just worried that some papers will not be shredded, that may contain personal information like credit card accounts, social security information, etc. So, each year after our taxes are done and the documents which need to be shredded at pulled aside, I like to shred them at home. But, our shredder (which I was never fond of) broke last year, thus leaving me to get a new shredder. Thanks to the folks at Fellowes, I was sent a new shredder this year, which I love. Gone are the days that I get frustrated trying to remove paper jams, or have to keep dumping out the shredded paper from the bin after only a stack of papers are shredded. The new 63Cb shredder from Fellowes exceeded my expectations of a shredder. Here are just some of the features of this shredder:
Fellowes 63Cb Shredder
Shredding paper documents containing personal information continues to be one of the best and most effective ways to prevent identity theft - during tax season and year round. A Cross-Cut shredder, such as the Fellowes 63Cb, can destroy paper into hundreds of small, unidentifiable pieces.
· The 63Cb shredder is the perfect machine for the home. The machine features many of Fellowes’ exclusive technologies at an affordable price:
o Fellowes’ Jam BlockerTM technology blocks jams before they start
o SafeSense® technology automatically stops shredding when hands touch the paper opening
o Energy Savings System maximizes shredder energy savings 100% of the time – both in use and out of use
o Heavy-duty Cross-Cut blades destroy a single sheet of paper into 302 particles, making it nearly impossible to piece back together
o The 63Cb is available at www.Amazon.com, www.OfficeDepot.com and www.OfficeMax.com for a suggested retail price of $149.99
The 63Cb Shredder from Fellowes is available at www.Amazon.com, www.OfficeDepot.com and www.OfficeMax.com for a suggested retail price of $149.99
Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review. The views I share are mine and mine alone.