Spring Cleaning? Check Out These Document Retention Guidelines First!

Good records offer legal protection and can potentially prevent damages in a lawsuit, so it’s important records be available and easily accessible when needed. Storing documents longer than necessary, however, wastes precious space and resources. How long should your personal or business files be kept? It depends on the type of file in question, but as a general rule, documents should be kept as long as they serve a useful purpose and all legal and regulatory requirements are met.

Type of Record
Recommended Period of Retention
Credit Card/Purchasing Documents
Contracts (purchases and sales) At least 6 years after the termination or disposal of item
Credit Card Receipts Shred once reconciled with your monthly statement
Sales Receipts At least 6 years

Bank Documents

Bank Deposit/Withdrawal Slips Shred once reconciled with your monthly statement
Bank and Credit Card Statements At least 7 years
Cancelled Checks At least 7 years

Investment Documents

IRA Contribution Statements Permanent
Pension/Profit Sharing Informational Returns Permanent
Retirement/Savings Plan Permanent

Insurance Documents

Insurance Policies At least 6 years after the termination of the policy
Settled Insurance Claims At least 4 years after the termination of the policy

Tax Documents

Income Tax Payment Checks Permanent
Income Tax Returns and Worksheets 7 years from filing date
Medical Bills (if tax related) At least 7 years
Records for Tax Deductions At least 7 years (e.g., charitable donations)

Home/Residence and Personal Documents

Bills Minimum 1 year*
Deeds, Mortgages, and Bills of Sales Permanent
Legal Correspondence Permanent
Medical Bills At least 3 years
Contracts and Agreements At least 6 years
Paycheck Stubs Shred after reconciled with W-2 form and taxes are paid
Plan and Trust Agreement Permanent
Real Estate Records of Improvement Retain for length of home ownership
Utility Records At least 3 years
Birth certificates, social security card, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, passports, education records & military service records Permanent

*Keep bills for large purchases for insurance purposes
Source: www.bbb.org/upstatesc

Protect Your Business

Document shredding is essential to protecting yourself and your business. The general public is more aware than ever before about the importance of protecting their personal information. They expect businesses to have processes in place for the management and secure disposal of their sensitive information. Sierra Shred destroys records in accordance with state and federal regulations regarding information destruction, including HIPAA, FACTA, GLBA. We also perform rigorous 7+ year background checks and drug testing by 3rd party vendors on all of our personnel. We can provide you and your clients with peace of mind regarding the secure disposal of confidential personal and business information.

shredded papers