How Long To Keep Bank Statements?

Q:

How long should you keep bank statements?

A:

It can be super confusing to determine what financial documents you should keep or shred. Many of us file away important documents and forget about them until the paperwork starts to noticeably stack up. One of the documents we often hang onto for years are bank statements.

If you receive mailed bank statements, they often come in several pages. This is especially true if you have numerous transactions per month. By the end of the year you could have a binder full of statements that you need to file away. But, how long do you need to keep these bank statements?

How Long To keep Bank Statements?

In order to determine the length of time to keep your bank statements, you must determine if the statements have any bearing on your taxes. If the bank statements are relevant to your taxes, you should keep them for seven years. Why? Because this the maximum period of limitations that the IRS can pursue a taxpayer. However, you should keep your bank statements indefinitely if you do not file or fraudulent file tax returns.

You can generally discard bank statements after a year if they do not have any association with your taxes. However, you should review the bank statements before you discard them to determine if they might be needed beyond a year. For example, if you are going through a divorce or may have potential issues with a creditor, you may want to keep the bank statements much longer. Many people use a conservative approach and keep their statements with no tax significance for three years. Ultimately, you should use your best judgement to determine how long to keep your bank statements that are not pertinent to your taxes.

How Far Back Can You See Online Bank Statements?

Many people choose to receive online statements in lieu of the traditional mailed bank statements. If you choose to accept paperless bank statements, the amount of time the statements are achieved varies per bank. However, it is not uncommon for banks to keep records for at least 7 years. You may not need to keep physical copies of your bank statements if they available online for an adequate period of time. Check with your bank to see how long they keep your bank statements available for viewing online.