Posts tagged documents
Could you produce your birth certificate, car title, or an old tax return at a moment’s notice?
You’re supposed to store vital documents in a fireproof box or keep them in a safe-deposit box, but how many of us actually do that? We may not need these papers often, but when we do need them, we really need them. You need vital documents to sell your car, travel overseas, apply for a job, get through an audit, refinance your house, and more.
The good news is that if you’ve lost important pieces of paper, you can replace them — and it might be easier than you think. Here’s how to replace six of the most important documents in your life.
To read the rest of this article by April Dykman, staff writer for Get Rich Slowly, please go to http://bit.ly/bg8V6o.
If you’re like many of our clients, you are sometimes confused about which documents to save and which ones you can get rid of (see, shred in a quality paper shredder to protect your identity). If you’re staring at a pile of papers or boxes of papers, worried that you may need some of them at some point, here are a few basic tips on what to keep and what to toss (if you’re not sure, save it, these are just guidelines).
WHAT TO KEEP
- The most important documents to keep are your annual tax returns. You should keep the actual returns forever, but you can get rid of the supporting documents after three years – which is how long the IRS has to initiate an audit. If you’re self-employed, you need to keep supporting tax documents for six years, the amount of time the IRS has to come after you. Once that time is up, toss the records, shredding any that reveal your Social Security number or other personal information.
- Other papers to save for at least three years include thank-you letters from charities and year-end investment statements. You don’t need to save your monthly mutual fund reports forever. But before you toss them, wait for the year-end statements and make sure they match up.
- Records that show the initial purchase price for stocks and mutual funds so you can calculate your basis when you sell them. After that, you can shred the documents once the three- or six-year IRS window draws to a close.
- Save records pertaining to your house as long as you live in it. Records showing your purchase price, and what you spent on improvements, may come in handy when you’re trying to prove the value of your home to potential buyers. Another reason to keep these papers: If you sell your house at a hefty profit (more than $500,000 for couples filing a joint return or $250,000 for single filers), certain expenses can be used to lower your tax bill. After you sell the house, keep the documents for three years.
- Records showing how much money went into and came out of IRAs and 401(k)s — especially if you’ve made any nondeductible contributions — so you don’t overpay taxes when you withdraw the money. Keep any 8606 forms on which you reported nondeductible contributions to traditional IRAs.
WHAT TO TOSS
- ATM receipts, bank withdrawal and deposit slips, and credit-card receipts can go through the shredder after you’ve checked them against your monthly statements.
- Paper copies of most monthly bills — for credit cards, utilities and cable TV — unless you need them for tax purposes.