A Quick Guide on How Long to Keep Sensitive Documents Before Shredding Them

Stacked boxes of documents

We all have important documents we’re holding on to for dear life. Often, we don’t even ask the question, “When is it time to shred these?”

If you have a filing cabinet at home, filled with old tax returns, bank statements, utility bills and more, it’s time to learn how long you should be keeping these sensitive documents on hand.

Here’s a quick guide to help you out:

Tax Returns:

Generally, for IRS audit purposes, a good rule of thumb is to hold on to tax returns for at least seven years. However, some of the more aggressive taxpayers will hold on to their tax returns indefinitely. For most of us, the seven-year rule works just fine.

Bank Statements:

Do you have a bunch of ATM and deposit statements laying around? Jump online and verify these transactions have gone through properly, or check any paper statements sent by your banking institution. Once verified, go ahead and shred these documents – you won’t need them. Retain your paper bank statements for at least one year. If you need to support business expenses, hold on to these statements for at least three years or longer for verification purposes. To qualify for Medicaid or a mortgage, save statements for three years or longer too.


Hold on to your monthly brokerage statements for an entire year. After the one-year mark passes, keep your annual summary statement for your personal records and shred the monthly statements. If you receive letters about any changes to your portfolio, hold on to these until you receive your next statement. After that, feel free to shred these documents as well.

Credit Card Statements:

Monthly credit card statements can be sent to the shredder after one year.

 Medical and Dental Bills:

Often, it’s okay to shred your medical bills after one year if your health issues have subdued and all payments are up-to-date. If you’re claiming medical expenses on a tax return however, hold on to these alongside your tax returns.

Utility Bills:

Shred utility bills after you’ve made a payment. If you’re self-employed, hold on to these documents for longer for tax purposes.

It’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll need to shred your sensitive documents. When that time comes, give us a call at 419-244-SHRED, or 800-747-3341. To learn more about our document destruction services offered, visit us at https://AccuShred.net/