Records Retention Guide

The length of time you keep records is a combination of judgment and state and federal statutes of limitations. Since federal tax returns can generally be audited for up to three years after filing and up to six years if the IRS suspects underreported income, it s wise to keep tax records at least seven years after a return is filed. Requirements for records kept electronically are the same as for paper records.

Generally, follow these recommended retention periods for various documents:

Record Retention Period
Tax returns 7 years
W-2s 7 years
1099s 7 years
Cancelled or substitute checks supporting tax deductions 7 years
Bank deposit slips 7 years
Bank statements 7 years
Charitable contribution documentation 7 years
Credit card statements 7 years
Receipts, diaries, logs pertaining to tax return 7 years
Investment purchase and sales slips Ownership period + 7 years
Dividend reinvestment records Ownership period + 7 years
Year-end brokerage statements Ownership period + 7 years
Mutual fund annual statements Ownership period + 7 years
Investment property purchase documents Ownership period + 7 years
Home purchase documents Ownership period + 7 years
Home improvement receipts and cancelled checks Ownership period + 7 years
Home repair receipts and cancelled checks Warranty period for item
Retirement plan annual reports Permanent
IRA annual reports Permanent
IRA nondeductible contributions (Form 8606) Permanent
Insurance policies Life of policy + 3 years
Divorce documents Permanent
Loans Term of loan + 7 years
Estate planning documents Permanent