What Should You Shred During Tax Season: We Answer Here

Tax season is a stressful and complicated time. It can be confusing to know which documents to keep, dispose of, or shred. Properly disposing of private information is important to prevent identity theft.

To help you understand document protection and destruction basics for tax season, we've answered some frequently-asked questions about tax documents.

What is the duration for which I should retain my tax records?

As per the guidance of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States, it is advisable to keep tax records for a period of three to seven years, based on your individual circumstances.

What is the time period for which I should keep my pay stubs?

If you get pay stubs for your salary, you may dispose of them by the end of the year, but it is advisable to keep them until you obtain and compare them with the W-2 form received from your employer.

When can I shred tax documents?

It is generally recommended that you keep tax documents for at least three years, but some documents should be kept for up to seven years. However, if you are certain that you no longer need the tax documents, you can shred them. It's important to ensure that you are not getting rid of any essential documents that you might need in the future.

How long do I keep Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) statements?

Keeping your IRA statements until the year-end statement arrives is important to ensure that you have a complete record of your account activity. It's also a good idea to keep year-end statements for six years for tax purposes, as the IRS may request them as proof of your contributions or withdrawals.

Filing and Shredding

What tax documents should I keep?

Some of the documents that you need to retain for future reference after submitting your taxes are:

  • Any 'proof' that backs up an income or credit item on the tax return (receipts, bank and credit card statements, canceled checks, and other evidence of payment).
  • Claims for deductions (support payments, charitable contributions, mortgage interest payments, retirement plan contributions, etc.)
  • Records related to enhancements made to owned property.
  • A duplicate of the tax return (it can assist in preparing future tax returns)
  • Titles of vehicles and property deeds
  • Information regarding pension plans and estate planning
  • Vital records such as birth and death certificates, citizenship documents, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, Social Security numbers, and military discharge documents.

Should I shred receipts?

It depends on the type of bill and how long you need to keep it for record-keeping purposes. Generally, bills related to taxes, insurance, and major purchases should be kept for several years, while bills for everyday expenses can be discarded after a few months. However, to protect your personal information, it's always a good idea to shred any bills that contain sensitive information such as your social security number or account numbers.

What personal documents should I shred after filing my taxes?

Some documents that you can shred after filing your taxes are:

  • Records that have exceeded the suggested storage time
  • Records that have been converted into digital copies
  • Documents that have become of no use (ATM receipts, sales receipts, credit offers, expired warranties, and insurance papers)
  • Documents that can be accessed online (paid credit card statements, bank statements, utility bills)
  • Records associated with fully paid loans
  • Bits of paper and sticky notes that contain private information, such as passwords.

Other Questions

How should I dispose of tax returns?

It's crucial to avoid disposing of sensitive files in the trash can or recycling bin. Identity burglars can reconstruct personal data discovered in the garbage, irrespective of whether you tear the paper by hand. To safeguard your privacy and avert identity theft, one of the most effective methods is to shred all unnecessary tax returns.

How can I find my old tax returns?

You can request a copy of your old tax returns from the IRS by filling out Form 4506. You can also access your tax transcripts online through the IRS website or by calling the IRS.

Protect Your Private Information

Learn more about how Mobile Record Shredders® can help you protect your tax-related documents. Contact us for a free quote.

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