Clearing the clutter — what to hold, what to shred
Provided by RBC Wealth Management
and Dave Dupont
If your file cabinets are overflowing with old statements and records, you are not alone. Knowing what to retain and what to shred is a common dilemma.
You can get rid of bank deposit slips once you’ve reconciled your statement. You need to keep the statement if you are paying bills online — and especially if any of those bills are going go toward tax deductions. A lot of people now pay their bills online, and your bank statement is really the only record of those online transactions. If your bank statements become part of your supporting documents on your taxes, keep them for at least three years.
It’s a good idea to keep your tax returns for at least seven years, but you can generally toss your supporting documents three years after filing your taxes. If you have any self-employment income, keep the records for at least six years.
Keep records showing what you originally paid for mutual funds and stocks until you sell them and report the gain or loss on your taxes. 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. Also, hold onto your year-end statements showing how much you received in dividends or capital-gains distributions, so you won’t end up paying taxes on them twice. You can toss your monthly statements if everything matches up with your year-end report.
Keep the quarterly statements from your 401(k) or other plans until you receive the annual summary; if everything matches up, then toss the quarterlies. Keep the annual summaries until you retire or close the account.
Throw credit card receipts away if they have appeared on the credit card statement, after making sure they match your statement.
Paycheck stubs should be kept until you receive your end-of-year tax statements. When you receive your annual W-2 form from your employer, make sure the information on your stubs matches. If it does, you can toss the stubs.
You’ll want to hold savings bonds until they mature, but it is best to convert them to electronic bonds at the U.S. Treasury. Otherwise, keep them in a safe-deposit box and have a list of serial numbers at home.
There are certain documents you should never throw away: birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, military discharge papers, loan discharge notices and Social Security cards, to name a few.
This article is provided by Dave Dupont, a Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management. RBC Wealth Management does not endorse this organization or publication.
RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets LLC, Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC