Aging Well November 20th 2012

Last week I discussed how to decide what to toss and what to shred when you finally get around to cleaning out years of records and documents. But I didn’t address a related question, “How long should you keep records, particularly financial records, before they can be shredded?”

According to the experts, generally there are two main reasons for keeping financial records: to offer documentation for a disputed tax issue or to show proof you made a payment or some other financial transaction.

According to Jennifer Saranow Schultz, a contributing writer for the New York Times Business Section, the IRS requires “individuals be able to produce records proving any income, deductions or credit claimed for at least three yearsfrom the date of a return”. (Three years is the statute of limitations for the IRS to assess additional taxes if all income is reportedly correctly.) But if you fail to report more than 25% of your income on your tax return, the IRS requires you to produce records for six years. Therefore the safest recommendation is to keep all of your tax records and documentation for the longer six years.

For other financial records, such as utility bills or other proofs of payment, you only need to keep them until you are sure the payment has been processed. Once you see the zero balance on the next bill, it can be shredded. For loan papers, keep them until the loan is paid off and then just keep the documentation that shows it has been paid in full; for insurance documents, keep them as long as you have the policy or if there are still unresolved claims; and for health insurance, keep those records for any service still being provided, that has not been paid or is unresolved. (And of course if any of these kinds of records are used to claim a tax deduction, save them for the recommended six years.)

There are some financial records you should keep indefinitely. Again according to Jennifer Schultz, you need to keep indefinitely “paperwork related to legal filings, wills, inheritance, bankruptcy and paperwork documenting contributions to and withdrawals from retirement accounts like Roth I.R.A.’s.”

And one final note. For security reasons, experts caution against using the new technological tools for keeping your records. Avoid storing your records online or on your computer. You’ll be glad to know it is still recommended to keep your records the old fashioned way: the original documents in a safe and secure place.

On Tuesday November 27th at 11:00 AM, the Center is going to complete the month’s Tuesday Lecture Series with a bang – a special presentation by Dr. Joshua Boone, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, speaking about foot care.  If you would like to learn more about medical conditions affecting the foot or have questions (or just have a foot fetish), please join us. The presentation will be in the Center’s basement since this month’s second AARP Driver Safety Class on the 26th and 27th will be using the upstairs classroom. (And there are still openings for this class which is free for Veterans and their spouses.)

Tonight at the Center, right here in wet River City, Truman will be singing his Country Gold. And next Tuesday we’ll end the month with “For the Good Times”. The music starts at 7:00, everyone is welcome – including any gregarious Turkeys, and donations are always appreciated to keep the lights on and the musicians fed.

The TV series on ABC inspired by real-life Prohibition agents who battled Chicago crime elements was the “Untouchables” starring Robert Stack. (And the winner of the Christmas Breakfast on December 15th is Sandy Goforth.)

This week’s “Remember When” question is a little more recent – only forty years ago. But let’s see if anyone knows the answer. The fourth season of this TV series included one of the most famous sitcom Thanksgiving scenes – while Emily was away for a Thanksgiving family reunion,  her husband calls to order Chinese food for himself and his three friends who have all gotten drunk while watching a football game on TV. “Moo goo goo goo? Maybe I’m ordering Chinese baby food.” What was the name of this popular TV series that first aired in 1972? E-mail your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with the hit album of humorous deadpan monologues called “The Buttoned Mind Strikes Back.”

Well, it has been another week, waiting for the Turkey to undress. Until we meet again, eat slowly, chew thoughtfully and swallow carefully. And enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving.

You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.” Yogi Berra

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