Shred, Discard or Keep Tax Documents?

With 3 million Americans annually reporting tax identity theft and an estimated $5 billion paid out in fraudulent returns, security is a hot issue. While cyber attacks pose a major threat, not all attackers are found online… They sift through trash and recycling bins to hunt for personal information like your name, address, Social Security Number, or documents that compromise your identity and use what they’ve found to file fraudulent tax returns.

In all reality, dumpster divers are not just looking for second-hand household items, they seek your personal information that could affect your financial credibility down the line.

What to Keep…

During tax season, you probably have questioned what tax and financial documents you should shred, discard or keep. Here are some common documents and the recommended length of time you should hang on to them:


  • Records of business expenses and property sales that resulted in NOLs or capital losses
  • Records of home improvements or other expenditures that establish basis

3 Years:

  • Previous tax returns
  • Proof of charitable contributions and receipts related to business expenses.
  • Bank statements
  • Printed paystubs
  • Utility bills
  • Brokerage statements
  • Medical and dental expense receipts
  • Supporting documents for tax: 
    • W2s
    • 1099s
    • Tax-reporting statements
    • HUD and Closing Disclosure forms
    • Mortgage statements
    • 1095s and certificates of exemptions
    • W4s
    • Retirement savings annual reports
    • Annual brokerage statements

* View IRS Topic 305 for more information.

Reynold Alabre is a Sr. Accountant and a Tax Advisor at H&R Block. He’s the Owner of the Rey Group, and a member of the BRBC in Bridgeport. Rey has been providing expert tax advice and preparation support for taxpayers for over a decade.

Rey Alabre’s contact info is listed below for more information.

Office Address: Bridgeport H&R Block 1375 Madison Ave. Bridgeport CT 06606

Office Phone Number: 203-908-3309