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Records Retention Guideline

Do you know how long you legally have to keep all those papers in your filing system? Tax records? Credit card bills? Old insurance policies and appliance warranties? Some might be longer than you think — others could be tossed out right now. Read on to find out which is which!

Business Records — Keep 3 Years

Checkmark-Iconmonthly financial statements

Xmark-Iconcredit card statements — for internal use

Checkmark-Iconemployment applications — unless your profession requires longer

Xmark-Iconexpired insurance policies

Checkmark-Iconnote: consult your accountant before getting rid of any financial paperwork

Xmark-Iconnote: consult your attorney before getting rid of any legal paperwork

Business Records — Keep 6 Years

Checkmark-Iconbank reconciliation and canceled checks

Xmark-Iconcanceled payroll and dividend checks

Checkmark-Iconpersonnel and payroll records

Xmark-Iconpurchase records

Checkmark-Iconsales records

Xmark-Icontravel and entertainment records

Checkmark-Iconsupporting documents for tax returns

Xmark-Iconproperty records and improvement receipts — if tax-related

Checkmark-Iconsales receipts — if tax-related

Xmark-Iconutility records — if tax-related

Checkmark-Iconother bills — if tax-related

Xmark-Iconnote: consult your accountant before getting rid of any financial paperwork

Checkmark-Iconnote: consult your attorney before getting rid of any legal paperwork

Business Records — Keep Forever

Xmark-Iconincome tax returns

Checkmark-Iconincome tax payment checks

Xmark-Iconinvestment trade confirmations

Checkmark-Iconimportant correspondence

Xmark-Iconlegal records

Checkmark-Iconretirement and pension records

Xmark-IconCPA audit reports

Checkmark-Iconannual financial statements and books of account

Xmark-Iconcorporate documents — incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.

Checkmark-Iconstock records

Xmark-Iconretirement and pension records

Checkmark-Iconlicenses, patents, and trademarks and registration packets

Xmark-Iconinvestment trade confirmations

Checkmark-Icondocuments substantiating fixed asset additions

Xmark-Iconnote: consult your accountant before getting rid of any financial paperwork

Checkmark-Iconnote: consult your attorney before getting rid of any legal paperwork

Personal Records — Keep 1-3 Years

Xmark-Iconcredit card statements

Checkmark-Iconmedical bills — in case of insurance disputes

Xmark-Iconutility records — for internal use

Checkmark-Iconexpired insurance policies

Xmark-Iconnote: consult your accountant before getting rid of any financial paperwork

Checkmark-Iconnote: consult your attorney before getting rid of any legal paperwork

Personal Records — Keep 6 Years

Xmark-Iconsupporting documents for tax returns

Checkmark-Iconaccident reports and claims

Xmark-Iconmedical bills — if tax-related

Checkmark-Iconproperty records and improvement receipts — if tax-related

Xmark-Iconsales receipts — if tax-related

Checkmark-Iconutility records — if tax-related

Xmark-Iconother bills — if tax-related

Checkmark-Iconnote: consult your accountant before getting rid of any financial paperwork

Xmark-Iconnote: consult your attorney before getting rid of any legal paperwork

Personal Records — Keep Forever

Checkmark-Iconincome tax returns

Xmark-Iconincome tax payment checks

Checkmark-Iconinvestment trade confirmations

Xmark-Iconimportant correspondence

Checkmark-Iconlegal records

Xmark-Iconretirement and pension records

Checkmark-IconCPA audit reports

Xmark-Iconnote: consult your accountant before getting rid of any financial paperwork

Checkmark-Iconnote: please consult your attorney before getting rid of any legal paperwork

Special Circumstances

Xmark-Iconcar records — keep until the car is sold

Checkmark-Iconcredit card receipts — keep until verified on your statement

Xmark-Iconinsurance policies — keep for the life of the policy

Checkmark-Iconmortgages, deeds, and leases — keep 6 years beyond the agreement

Xmark-Iconpay stubs — keep until reconciled with your W-2

Checkmark-Iconproperty records and improvement receipts — keep until property sold

Xmark-Iconsales receipts — keep for life of the warranty

Checkmark-Iconstock and bond records — keep for 6 years beyond selling

Xmark-Iconwarranties and instructions — keep for the life of the product

Checkmark-Iconother bills — keep until payment is verified on the next bill

Xmark-Iconnote: consult your accountant before getting rid of any financial paperwork

Checkmark-Iconnote: consult your attorney before getting rid of any legal paperwork

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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