Looking to lead a life with less paper but unsure of what documents to keep and what to purge? This post is for you.
Shifting to a life with less paper reduces clutter at home, in the office and of course our carbon footprint so why is it so hard to put the paper down? One, habit but coming in a close second is the ambiguity surrounding what documents you should keep on hand.
Here, we’ll break down what you should hang onto for forever, at least 7 years, 3-5 years and 1 year or less.
Documents You Should Keep Forever
• Birth certificates
• Social Security cards
• Marriage certificates
• Adoption papers
• Immunization Records
• Death certificates
• Wills and living wills
• Powers of attorney
• Legal filings
• Military records
• Retirement and pension plans
• Inheritance documents
• Beneficiary forms
• When it comes to taxes, it’s best to keep any tax records for at least seven years. The IRS statute of limitations for auditing is three years; however, there are circumstances where they can go as far back as 7 years. So, hang onto tax returns, like W-2 and 1099 forms, receipts and payments, in case you have an audit. If you have receipts related to assets, like receipts for home remodeling projects, keep these for as long as you are the owner.
• Title insurance policy
• Records of land transfer, deeds and mortgages
• Home Improvement Records (Hold for at least 3 years after the due date for the tax return that includes the income or loss on the asset when it’s sold)
1 year & Less
• Receipts for large purchases, for insurance and appraisal claims
• Non-tax-related bank and credit card statements, investment statements, and pay stubs
• Medical Bills- The Federal Trade Commission suggests holding on to your paid medical bills for a year before tossing them—unless you have an unresolved insurance dispute, in which case you would retain the medical bills until the dispute is resolved. Medical bills are confusing, and having records on hand to dispute payments or errors is wise.
What to hold while active:
• Product Warranties
• Insurance Documents
• Stock Certificates
• Property Records
• Stock Records
• Records of Pensions and Retirement Plans
• Disputed Bills (Keep the bill until the dispute is resolved)
For more paper consumption facts, check out the World Counter.