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
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
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)
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