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:

RecordRetention Period
Tax returns (uncomplicated)7 years
Tax returns (all others)Permanent
W-2s7 years
1099s7 years
Cancelled or substitute checks
supporting tax deductions
7 years
Bank deposit slips7 years
Bank statements7 years
Charitable contribution
documentation
7 years
Credit card statements7 years
Receipts, diaries, logs pertaining
to tax returns
7 years
Investment purchase and sales slipsOwnership period + 7 years
Dividend reinvestment recordsOwnership period + 7 years
Year-end brokerage statementsOwnership period + 7 years
Mutual fund annual statementsOwnership period + 7 years
Investment property purchase
documents
Ownership period + 7 years
Home purchase documentsOwnership 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 reportsPermanent
IRA annual reportsPermanent
IRA nondeductible contributions
(Form 8606)
Permanent
Insurance policiesLife of policy + 3 years
(Check with your agent. Liability for prior years can vary.)
Divorce documentsPermanent
LoansTerm of loan + 7 years
Estate planning documentsPermanent
Teal, Becker & Chiaramonte Certified Public Accountants