Suze Orman Says to Keep These 6 Financial Documents for at Least 3 Years

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  • You may want to clear out your office from time to time.
  • There are certain financial documents you may need to keep around for a while.
  • Tax documents and brokerage statements are some of the bits of paperwork you'll want to keep. 

Make sure you know which documents to toss and which to hang onto.

The financial documents you get in the mail are sort of a necessary evil. After all, they probably contain information you need, so as much as you may not appreciate the clutter they cause, it's easy to see why financial institutions send them out.

At some point, though, you may be inspired to do a cleanout and free up some space in your office filing cabinets. The question is, which documents do you keep versus save? It can be hard to know. But Suze Orman says these six documents are worth keeping for at least three years.

1. Income tax returns

It's a lesser-known fact that the IRS actually gets three years to conduct an audit after a tax return is filed. That's why it's important to keep tax documents around for at least three years beyond a given tax return's filing deadline. That way, if the IRS comes around asking questions, you'll have the right documents to refer to.

2. Medical bills

It's possible to claim a tax deduction for medical bills, and if you do so, make sure to keep those documents around for a good three years. You may also want to hang onto copies of paid bills for that long in case billing questions arise down the line and you need to provide proof of payment.

3. Records of selling a house

Selling a house could create a tax bill for you if you make enough money from your sale. That's why Orman thinks it's smart to keep copies of documents related to such a sale for three years.

4. Records of selling a stock

When you sell a stock in your brokerage account, capital gains or losses could ensue. Since those could tie into your income tax filing, it's a good idea to keep them around for three years.

5. Documents that support tax deductions

Maybe you're self-employed and deduct office supplies on your taxes because, well, you can. Just as you should keep your tax returns themselves for three years, so too should you keep copies of documents related to anything you might have claimed on your taxes.

6. Annual brokerage account statements

Brokerage accounts commonly send out quarterly statements as well as annual ones. Orman says it's wise to keep your annual statements in case you need them for tax purposes or simply as a reference.

Be careful when getting rid of financial documents

While Orman says it's wise to keep the above documents around for at least three years, once that time period passes, don't just toss them out. Instead, shred them so your personal financial information doesn't get into the wrong hands. If it does, you could end up having someone try to steal your identity.

At the same time, you may be able to sign up to have some of the above documents delivered to you electronically, such as your brokerage account statements. And that's a good way to not only minimize physical clutter in your home, but also help ensure that key documents are accessible when you need them.

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