Save, Shred, or Toss? The Complete Guide to Important Papers

what important papers to shred

Identity theft is taking America by storm and led to more than 710 billion dollars in losses in 2020. Many people assume that identity theft is happening online, and they are right.

But thieves don’t need to hack into your computer to steal your identity. They just need to get your trash. To keep your confidential documents secure, you need to know how to store and dispose of your important papers.

What documents should you save for a few years? What documents should you shred? What can you throw away in your garbage with minimal processing?

Answer these questions and you can keep your money and information safe for years to come. Here is your quick guide.

Save Everything You Need for Day-to-Day Operations

Many people know that they have to save their tax records. The IRS advises businesses to keep their tax returns and supporting documents for several years. Invest in document storage for these papers.

You should also keep your employment tax records for at least four years. Employee identification numbers, tax returns, and W-4 forms should all be maintained.

You should maintain your corporation records forever. Your business formation documents, lists of shareholders, and copyright registrations all fall under this category.

Any contracts and legal documents should receive proper storage. Follow essential records management tips so your information stays safe.

Shred Confidential Records and Business Records

Some people hang onto their bank statements for years. While it’s important to track your finances, you can shred your statements after one year.

You should also shred documents that provide supplemental information to your tax returns. This includes receipts and mileage logs.

It is very important that you shred all documents with employee or customer details on them. You should maintain them in your office for only as long as you need them then have them destroyed by a professional document shredding company.

While many people throw junk mail in the trash, this should also be shredded along with any other mail with your personal information on it.

Toss Trash and Non-Essential Papers

You can throw away anything that you regard as non-essential. Drafts of marketing materials can go into the recycle bin. You can crumble your paper or tear it into pieces, but you do not need to call a shredder.

Envelopes without your contact information and nonconfidential sketches or notes can be tossed. Just be sure that they don’t contain any personal information on them.

If a document has information you wouldn’t want others to see, shred it. If it doesn’t, toss it.

Preserve Your Important Papers

It can be hard to tell what important papers you should throw away. Store anything you need for tax purposes or daily operations.

You should shred other important financial documents. You can keep bank records for a few years, but make room for more recent and important records.

Marketing materials and scrap paper can go straight into the trash.

Need more help learning what to keep, shred, or toss? Contact Federal Records Management and Shredding in Fort Wayne today.