“I need information on organizing paperwork.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff questioned our patron for more details, wondering if she just needed information on the organization and filing of documents. She actually needed details on the important question of “How long should I keep paperwork?”
The library has books on home and office organization such as RealSimple: The Organized Home by Kendell Cronstrom, but we needed to actually find a list of papers and documents and how long to retain them. A Better Business Bureau website has a simple listing of important items and guidelines of how long to keep them. Some suggestions are: “Bank reconciliations - 2 yrs., Bank statements - 3 yrs. . . . Insurance policies (expired) - 3 yrs., Insurance records, current accident reports, claims, policies, etc - Permanently . . . Withholding tax statements - 7 yrs.” Our patron printed a copy of this list for personal reference.
Bankrate.com has a smart spending section entitled How long to keep financial records. It includes a chart listing records for taxes, IRA contributions, retirement/savings plans, bank and brokerage records, bills, credit card receipts and statements, paycheck stubs, and records for your home.