Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

Ask Liz: Paperwork Spring Cleaning

By Liz Crenshaw and Katie Roberts
|  Monday, May 2, 2011  |  Updated 3:53 PM EDT
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Ask Liz: Paperwork Spring Cleaning

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Spring is upon us, and now is the time to tackle those piles of papers you've been neglecting all winter long. But how do you know which documents to throw away and which to save? Consumer Reports helped us with this answer.

Consumer Reports says to review anything from your bank immediately. Hold on to anything needed for tax or financial reasons.

You can toss all paid bills (like credit card bills) unless you need the bill to support a tax deduction. Also, toss any receipts that aren't being used to track your spending, return items, or itemize tax deductions.

Bank records that support your tax returns should be kept for 7 years. That’s because the government has up to 6 years to challenge your tax return. You can be audited at any time if the government suspects you of fraud.

Hold on to essential records like birth certificates and social security cards. Same goes for life-insurance policies and estate plans. These documents should be kept for life, even if you're not running for president.

For more information and advice, visit Consumer Reports here.

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