Retaining Financial Information
Feel like you’re buried under an avalanche of paper? The steady accumulation of paper over the years can make even the most organized system seem uncontrollable. Some general guidelines on which papers to retain and which to toss include:
- Never throw away copies of your federal and state tax returns, records of gifts you made or received, deeds, birth certificates, or marriage certificates.
- For at least six years, retain any records that support tax deductions or taxable income. Those records include canceled checks, expense records, employment and other contracts, and tax-related forms such as W-2s and 1099s. Keep in mind that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has three years to audit your return, but can go back six years if substantial underreporting of income is suspected. There is no time limit if fraud is suspected.
- Keep cost records until an asset is sold plus six years, such as brokerage statements reflecting the purchase and sale of securities; other records detailing the cost basis of investments; contributions to nondeductible and Roth individual retirement accounts; and purchase and sale documents for significant assets, such as homes, land, and cars.
- Monthly or quarterly statements can be thrown away once you receive an annual detailed listing of transactions at year-end. Old annual reports, proxy statements, prospectuses, and promotional information can be tossed when you receive current information.
Keeping your records organized will make it easier to find that paperwork when you need it. Organized files will also help your heirs readily locate all important financial information should something happen to you. This will help them identify all your assets and liabilities and let them know which professionals to contact, such as lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors.
Copyright © Integrated Concepts 2012. Some articles in this newsletter were prepared by Integrated Concepts, a separate, nonaffiliated business entity. This newsletter intends to offer factual and up-to-date information on the subjects discussed, but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. The appropriate professional advisers should be consulted before implementing any options presented. No party assumes liability for any loss or damage resulting from errors or omissions or reliance on or use of this material.