The January issue of CHANGING TIMES magazine makes the following recommendations on when to throw out records of your financial dealings.
HOME IMPROVEMENTS AND REPAIRS: The cost of a new roof, a fence, a kitchen renovation, central air-conditioning and other improvements can be added to your home's purchase price, increasing its cost basis and reducing your capital gain. Save receipts from all of these things.Painting and repairs are usually considered maintenance unless they are part of a major remodeling or restoration.
HOME SALE: In general all you need to keep are the settlement statement, IRS Form 2119 and receipts for home improvements.
INSURANCE: Throw away policies, amendments to canceled policies and statements from premiums paid more than a year ago. Professionals with liability insurance should hang on to old policies indefinitely just in case they get sued. You can throw away car and home claims that were settled over a year ago. In the case of life insurance, throw away all but the most recent annual reports and quarterly confirmations of transactions.
MEDICAL AND DENTAL RECORDS: Unless you have used them as a tax deduction, throw away bills and insurance reimbursement statements that are more than a year old.
MONEY-MARKET ACCOUNTS: Toss out all monthly statements except the most recent and the one for December.
PAY STUBS: If they show cumulative totals, save only the most recent one and the one from December.
PROPERTY TAXES: Throw away all but the latest assessment and keep canceled checks as proof of payment.
STOCKS AND BONDS: Keep confirmations of all purchases and redemptions as long as you own the security. Once you sell it, keep the papers for as long as you keep your tax records. Keep a record of dividends that have been reinvested. Discard other interest and dividend payment records more than a year old.
TELEPHONE AND UTILITY BILLS: Toss out bills that are more than a year old unless you're deducting a percentage as a home office expense.