What to Keep?

By Don Dudley

Published 04/16 2014 11:53PM

Updated 04/16 2014 11:53PM

Tax season is behind us, so it's tempting to toss all that paperwork out. But not so fast - we'll tell you what documents you need to hang on to.

Some documents may be important down the line. Federal and state income tax returns should be kept for a minimum of seven years. The IRS can audit a return at random up to three years from the date it  was filed, and taxpayers will also need supporting documents like w-2 forms, investment purchase statements, and credit card bills to prove deductions if necessary. It's easy to save returns when they're filed electronically. Those still filing on paper should scan and save all documents to cut down clutter.

What can get tossed?

-- receipts that don't have anything to do with a tax return,

-- pay stubs, since that information is on a w-2,

-- monthly investment statements.

-- and loan documents for items you no longer own.

Certain important items should always be kept, preferably under lock-and-key, including --

-- birth and death certificates

-- estate-planning documents and wills

-- marriage licenses and divorce papers,

-- military discharge documents,

-- and social security cards.

For discarded documents, shred them to avoid identity theft. Look locally for free shredding events, which tend to happen during this post-tax season time of year.

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