Askar

How long to keep your financial records?

In General, Tips N Tricks on August 9, 2006 at 4:19 am

I just came across this article in Bankrate.com and I felt it’s worth sharing. Here is what it suggests,

Tax Records: 7 Years

  • Tax Returns – The IRS has three years from your filing date to audit your return if it suspects good faith errors.
  • Canceled checks/receipts – The three-year deadline also applies if you discover a mistake in your return and decide to file an amended return to claim a refund.
  • Records for tax deductions taken – The IRS has six years to challenge your return if it thinks you underreported your gross income by 25 percent or more.
  • Note: There is no time limit if you failed to file your return or filed a fraudulent return.

IRA Contributions: Permanently

  • If you made a nondeductible contribution to an IRA, keep the records indefinitely to prove that you already paid tax on this money when the time comes to withdraw.

Retirement/Savings Plan Statements: From one year to permanently

  • Keep the quarterly statements from your 401(k) or other plans until you receive the annual summary; if everything matches up, then shred the quarterlies.
  • Keep the annual summaries until you retire or close the account.

Bank Records: From one year to permanently

  • Go through your checks each year and keep those related to your taxes, business expenses, home improvements and mortgage payments.
  • Shred those that have no long-term importance.

Brokerage Statements: Until you sell the securities

  • You need the purchase/sales slips from your brokerage or mutual fund to prove whether you have capital gains or losses at tax time.

Bills: From one year to permanently

Credit Card Receipts and Statements: From 45 days to 7 years

  • Keep your original receipts until you get your monthly statement; shred the receipts if the two match up.
  • Keep the statements for seven years if tax-related expenses are documented.

Paycheck Stubs: One Year

  • When you receive your annual W-2 form from your employer, make sure the information on your stubs matches.
  • If it does, shred the stubs.
  • If it doesn’t, demand a corrected form, known as a W-2c.

House/Condominium Records: From 6 years to permanently

  • Keep all records documenting the purchase price and the cost of all permanent improvements — such as remodeling, additions and installations.
  • Keep records of expenses incurred in selling and buying the property, such as legal fees and your real estate agent’s commission, for six years after you sell your home.
  • Holding on to these records is important because any improvements you make on your house, as well as expenses in selling it, are added to the original purchase price or cost basis. This adds up to a greater profit (also known as capital gains) when you sell your house. Therefore, you lower your capital gains tax.

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