Organizing Part Two: How Long To Keep Files

Getting ready to get organized was part of my first post where I share tips on where to start. One thing I struggle with in regards to organization is how long to keep items on file. For example, I don’t even know how long you are suppose to keep your Tax Paperwork, I thought three years, but I honestly have every year I have ever filed on hand. I took some time to look up the rules behind how long you should keep records on file to assist you in your organizational efforts, since part of being organized is clearing up the clutter. I used to keep my car insurance premium payments on file for years and then I realized I pay the premium from my checking account so really all I need to have on file is the actual insurance policy not all the premium payment receipts! That cleared up a nice amount of space in my file box!

  • IRS Tax Filing – the IRS has three years from the date you filed your return to audit you so it’s a good idea to keep not only a file with your tax filings for at least three years but also to keep your proof of wages, such as a pay-stub for the complete year until you have filed the return with the IRS.  Based on my research it appears keeping your tax returns for at least 7 years is best.
  • Bank Information, Utility Payments & Similar – Keep each for one month. Make sure your bank information has been balanced each month and toss the paperwork once you have reconciled your account. Next be sure any sales receipts you have are tossed after the refund time, which is usually 30 days but can be longer. Also utility statements can be kept for one month along with Debit & Credit card receipts for non-major purchases.
  • House Deeds, Vehicle Records, Birth Certificates & Similar – keep on file forever and if possible keep these type of important documents in a fire proof lock box or safe.

So what do you keep on file? How long to keep those items on file for? I would love to hear your tips and what you have learned through out the years of your life.

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  1. Seeing my moms business is a tax business I keep my files with her, so I probably have over 7 years LOL. She also suggest approx. 7 years to keep even when the IRS changes it.

    I have went paperless with most of my bills with trying to be greener but the ones I do get I keep until the next one arrives, then I shred.

    All my important papers I do have in a fireproof small safe!

    Great info brandy 🙂
    .-= Chrissy´s last blog ..Planning Your Projects: Basics on Getting Started =-.

  2. I do have fire proof box with birth certs, car title, ss cards. My mother is runs a tax business and keeps ours, so have probably more than 7 years kept. She suggests about the same as well to keep tax returns.

    My bills, I have converted most of them to paperless, simply because of trying to live greener. The ones I do have come in I keep until the next one arrives then I shred.

    Great information on how long to keep files.

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