ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY - Filing your taxes is important, but knowing what to keep after you've filed is just as crucial. What paperwork should you be guarding, what should you get rid of, and how should you do it?
You don't want to throw out those papers that could help you in an audit, but you also don't want to pack your house with papers that you could probably ditch. We wanted to let you know the safest ways to either organize or destroy those documents.
April 15th rolls around again. Once you've filed those taxes, what do you with all the paperwork? We want to make sure you do all you can so those tax agents aren't knocking at your door down the road.
“I keep a copy for years because if the government comes back at you. I make sure I have the copies on hand of what actually was filed,” Ray Tayner of Claysburg said.
The IRS said keeping your tax documents three years after a year you file should be good enough, but…
“If you owe taxes or you get a large payment back or you file late you keep it for seven years,” Kooman and Associates owner Martin Kooman said.
Sometimes seven years isn't enough. If you didn't file taxes one year or didn't claim an income, the IRS' only suggestion is to hold onto those documents forever.
There are some things you can go ahead and pitch, like credit card and bank statements.
“Those companies are going to have copies of these things going back as long as you're ever going to need. If you have an ATM slip or a credit card slip you're going to save that until you get the next monthly statement and then move on to the next statement,” Kooman said.
Those documents still have your name, social security information and other personal data. So take these people's advice.
“Shred it,” Amy Mikisic of Williamsburg said.
“Anything with our names on it we shred,” Sheryl Tayner of Claysburg said.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that anything is in your dumpster or anything you throw out is public domain and anyone can have access to it and publicly use that information so it's really critical that shredding is important thing,” Kooman said.
Here is some other advice for storage.
- Keep physical copies of any letters, agreements, etc.
- Go beyond making copies. Scan documents and keep digital files on a computer or thumb drive.
- Keep a journal and write down days you sign important papers or keep track of important events, like the day you close on a house. Kooman says that information can help you when it comes to looking for a certain document in piles or stacks of papers.