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s/o decluttering. When to toss paperwork?

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So how long do I need to keep paperwork around? I have papers from the buying/selling of our home from 7 years ago. Is it ok to toss? What about bank statements? bills? refinancing info? I get conflicting answers when doing an online search. Somebody just tell me what to do.:tongue_smilie:

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Anything tax related: 7 years.

House purchase papers? I would keep those until I move out of the house, or at least until the mortgage is paid off.

Bank statements: I used to keep for seven years, just to be safe with respect to taxes. But we have now switched to online statements which greatly reduces paper volume.

What bills? Utility bills: until payment shows in next billing cycle, but I keep for a few years to be able to compare usage and rates. Bills for items? Until warranty runs out.


there is so much other paper that I can toss, I tend to err on the side of caution for financial stuff.

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I don't keep much. Generally tax info and that is about it. Bank statements are available on line. I don't even get them in the mail for most accounts. I don't keep utility bills after I pay them. My check is my receipt showing amount and date paid.

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I keep the paperwork for the last 3 years of filed tax returns. There is no chance the IRS would discover a "substantial error" in our tax returns that would trigger an increase in the 3 year statute of limitations.


How far back can the IRS go to audit my return?

Generally, the IRS can include returns filed within the last three years in an audit. Additional years can be added if a substantial error is identified. Generally, if a substantial error is identified, the IRS will not go back more than the last six years.


The IRS tries to audit tax returns as soon as possible after they are filed. Accordingly most audits will be of returns filed within the last two years.


If an audit is for an older year, you may be requested to extend the statute of limitations for assessment of your tax return. The statute of limitations limits the time allowed to assess additional tax. The statute of limitations is generally three years after a return is due or was filed, whichever is later.




I keep paperwork on currently owned assets or currently owed liabilities. I keep bank statements for the years I keep the tax returns. I keep receipts for items currently under warranty.

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I've been wondering this too! I've scanned a lot of things to and have almost gotten rid of one filing cabinet. I've also found a lot of manuals online (pdf), so I can recycle those.


How about credit card bills? I don't even want to scan them because I don't want our credit card numbers on my laptop (in case it gets hacked or stolen someday). Can I just shred them? I'm too scared! :tongue_smilie:

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