Record Retention Guide for Individuals

Good recordkeeping can cut your taxes and make your financial life easier.

How long to 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 (uncomplicated) 

7 years

Tax returns (all others)

Permanent

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 returns

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
(Check with your agent. Liability for prior years can vary.)

Divorce documents

Permanent

Loans

Term of loan + 7 years

Estate planning documents

Permanent

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