When are you comfortable throwing out account statements?


R

Rich Carreiro

How many years after an account has been closed (i.e. checking, credit
card, brokerage accounts, not accounts like utilities, auto/home
insurance, etc.) are you comfortable throwing out (trash, not recycling)
the statements vs. shredding them? "Comfortable" here is with respect to
identity theft worries, not taxing authority worries.

Finally time to attack some of the attic clutter and among other things
are statements going back to 1987. So the stack of potential
shreddables will be very tall. (I of course will be keeping all tax
returns and will be keeping supporting documentation for the past six
years' returns).

(Though I suppose the best thing is to probably just play it
safe and bring everything to a reputable bulk shredder. Too
bad my town doesn't allow outside burning, though...)
 
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P

Pico Rico

Rich Carreiro said:
How many years after an account has been closed (i.e. checking, credit
card, brokerage accounts, not accounts like utilities, auto/home
insurance, etc.) are you comfortable throwing out (trash, not recycling)
the statements vs. shredding them? "Comfortable" here is with respect to
identity theft worries, not taxing authority worries.

Finally time to attack some of the attic clutter and among other things
are statements going back to 1987. So the stack of potential
shreddables will be very tall. (I of course will be keeping all tax
returns and will be keeping supporting documentation for the past six
years' returns).

(Though I suppose the best thing is to probably just play it
safe and bring everything to a reputable bulk shredder. Too
bad my town doesn't allow outside burning, though...)
Never. I have a fireplace and a bank that has a free shred day once or
twice a year.
 
M

Mark Freeland

Never. I have a fireplace and a bank that has a free shred day once or
twice a year.
Got to agree here. These days, enough banks and communities sponsor
free shredding days, that it seems easiest (and cheapest) to just wait
for the periodic event. Everything is piled in your attic anyway, just
create a new pile.

That's what I did last year when I scanned and discarded documents
dating back seven decades (though like you, my major collection started
in 1987). This included parents' documents that we'd never sorted
through (and these in turn even included tax returns of my father's
parents). Is is safe to simply discard papers just because someone is
deceased?

Side note on the tax side - I don't believe one can blindly discard docs
after six years. There's the obvious - cap gains - you need the
purchase documentation. But also home improvement expenditures (again
for dealing with potential cap gains). Then there's the possibility of
using a prior year's medical expenses to justify an HSA withdrawal. To
document that, one needs not only the bill (or other proof of service)
and check/credit card statement (proof of payment), but also proof that
the expense wasn't already itemized (meaning all 1040s, or at least all
Sched A's from the year of service until today - can't get rid of any of
the tax returns).
 
P

Pico Rico

Mark Freeland said:
Got to agree here. These days, enough banks and communities sponsor free
shredding days, that it seems easiest (and cheapest) to just wait for the
periodic event. Everything is piled in your attic anyway, just create a
new pile.

That's what I did last year when I scanned and discarded documents dating
back seven decades (though like you, my major collection started in 1987).
This included parents' documents that we'd never sorted through (and these
in turn even included tax returns of my father's parents). Is is safe to
simply discard papers just because someone is deceased?

Side note on the tax side - I don't believe one can blindly discard docs
after six years. There's the obvious - cap gains - you need the purchase
documentation. But also home improvement expenditures (again for dealing
with potential cap gains). Then there's the possibility of using a prior
year's medical expenses to justify an HSA withdrawal. To document that,
one needs not only the bill (or other proof of service) and check/credit
card statement (proof of payment), but also proof that the expense wasn't
already itemized (meaning all 1040s, or at least all Sched A's from the
year of service until today - can't get rid of any of the tax returns).
evidence of depreciation items may need to be kept 39.5 years plus statute
of limitations, too.
 
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T

Tad Borek

How many years after an account has been closed (i.e. checking, credit
card, brokerage accounts, not accounts like utilities, auto/home
insurance, etc.) are you comfortable throwing out (trash, not recycling)
the statements vs. shredding them? "Comfortable" here is with respect to
identity theft worries, not taxing authority worries.
Never, because it would take too much time to review the documents to
figure out if there's anything useful on them. It's a lot easier to just
shred it all.

As an example, old documents used to have stuff on them that is no
longer allowed - e.g. full SSNs. Some health insurance used your SSN as
your ID number! So all you need is a check for a premium payment noting
your account number and someone gets your SSN.

-Tad
 

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