How Many Years Do You Need to Keep Old Tax Returns & Paycheck Stubs?

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Many people retain old financial documents for much longer than necessary, while others are quick to toss information that can help them later. Keep old tax returns for at least seven years and paycheck stubs until you have received your W-2.


Hold onto all financial records until you have both verified the accuracy of the information in them and exceeded the time limitation for financial institutions (e.g., mortgage companies) and the IRS to question you regarding those records.

Tax Returns

Keep old tax returns for seven years (or longer, if your financial adviser recommends it). This is the cutoff time for the IRS to audit you or challenge your return, or for you to make certain types of changes to your return. However, there is no time limitation if you did not file a return, or if you filed a fraudulent return.

Paycheck Stubs

Retain paycheck stubs only until you receive that year's W-2 and verify that the amounts on the W-2 match the amounts on your paycheck stubs.

Supporting Documents

In addition to keeping your old tax returns, keep copies of supporting documents, such as your W-2 forms, charitable contribution receipts, annual bank statements and mortgage statements.


Store old tax returns and paycheck stubs in folders or boxes, organized by year, in a filing cabinet or other safe place.