After tax season, you end up with a new stack of paper to deal with. In this article, we’ll dive into some best practices on how you can determine what is necessary to keep and what can be shred.

Keep a hard-copy of your tax returns for at least the previous three years. You should store the hard-copy returns in a secure location, such as a safe or a locked filing cabinet. When you add 2017’s return to your secure location, and so long as you don’t have any special considerations, remove 2014’s return and shred it.

And since you’re already in the mood to purge unnecessary documents, take your spring cleaning to a new level by looking at all of the documents you store within your home.

  • If you store your bank statements or pay stubs, once you have verified accuracy of each document, add these to your shred pile. In the event you need such documents in the future, you should be able to quickly reach out to bank or employer, as each is required to maintain records.

  • Legal documents, such as Social Security cards, wills, power of attorney and birth, marriage, divorce or death certificates should always be stored in a secure location. While copies of each document would be available through federal or state offices, often times you would need to pay for a duplicate copy and it can take days, sometimes weeks, to receive additional copies.

  • Home purchase or lease paperwork should also be stored in a secure location along with receipts for the duration that you are in the home. Once you sell the home, consider keeping key records for a few years.

  • Keep sales receipts and warranty information on any purchases over $75.00 until you no longer have the item… especially on vehicles you purchase!

  • To protect yourself from any disputes on payment, always keep medical payment receipts for one year.

Now that you’ve cleared out your stash of paper, consider signing up for electronic statements, when applicable, and keep your beloved shredder in a convenient location. If it’s nearby, you are more likely to shred something with your personal information than you are to throw it in the trash where it could end up in thieves’ hands, as it did with fraud expert, John Sileo.