Spring Cleaning: What Records Should I Keep?

Steve Finkelstein, CFP®, Megan Gehrman, CFP®, Luke Strom, CFP®

With spring around the corner (and the inevitable spring cleaning); we wanted to share a few quick items for you to consider when thinking about cleaning out some of your old files.

How Long Should I Keep Certain Documents?

The general statue of limitation for assessment of additional taxes owed from the IRS is 3 years from the date you file your return. Some exceptions do apply in regards to unreported income or fraudulent returns – which increase the time frame for statute of limitation in an audit.

Common Financial Records and Length of Time to Hold

  • Capital gains and loss records: 3 years from date filed in a return
  • Expenses on your home: until home is sold
  • Business records: 39+ years due to depreciation time frame on non-residential real estate
  • Employment, bank, and any brokerage statements: 3 years from date filed in return
  • Old tax returns: Generally 6+ years to satisfy unreported income statute of limitation

Items to NEVER Discard

  • Estate planning documents (wills, trusts, health care directives, etc.)
  • Birth, death, marriage, baptismal certificates
  • Divorce agreements
  • Passports
  • Social Security cards


Steven C. Finkelstein, CFP®, Megan E. Gehrman, CFP®, and Luke J. Strom, CFP® are Financial Advisors at Sterling Retirement Resources, Inc., 8401 Golden Valley Road, Ste 225, Golden Valley, MN 55427. 763-762-3400.

Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Broker-Dealer & Registered Investment Advisor. Some advisory services also offered through AdvisorNet Wealth Management. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.