Do I Need to Keep Bank Statements for 7 Years? A Comprehensive Guide to Document Retention

Navigating the complexities of personal finance can be daunting, especially when it comes to managing and storing important documents. One common question that arises is: “How long should I keep bank statements?” To answer this and provide a comprehensive understanding of document retention, we delve into the intricacies of tax regulations, financial record-keeping, and best practices for safeguarding sensitive information.

The Importance of Bank Statements: A Foundation for Financial Well-being

Bank statements serve as vital records of financial transactions, providing a detailed history of deposits, withdrawals, and other account activity. They play a crucial role in various aspects of personal finance, including:

  • Tax Preparation: Bank statements are essential for verifying income, expenses, and other tax-related information when filing tax returns.

  • Loan Applications: Lenders often request bank statements to assess an applicant’s financial stability and creditworthiness.

  • Proof of Income: Bank statements can serve as proof of income for employment or housing applications.

  • Fraud Detection: Regularly reviewing bank statements helps identify unauthorized transactions and potential fraud.

IRS Guidelines: A Framework for Tax-Related Document Retention

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) establishes specific guidelines for retaining tax-related documents, including bank statements. According to the IRS, individuals should keep records for at least three years from the date of filing their original tax return or two years from the date of paying the tax, whichever is later. However, the IRS may request documentation for returns filed within the last three to seven years.

Beyond Tax Obligations: Additional Reasons to Retain Bank Statements

While tax regulations provide a minimum timeframe for retaining bank statements, there are additional reasons why individuals may choose to keep them for longer periods:

  • Financial Planning: Bank statements offer valuable insights into spending habits, allowing individuals to make informed financial decisions and plan for the future.

  • Business Expenses: Business owners may need to retain bank statements to track expenses and support tax deductions.

  • Rental or Housing Applications: Landlords and property managers often request bank statements as proof of income when considering rental or housing applications.

Digital Storage: A Secure and Convenient Solution for Bank Statement Retention

In the digital age, storing bank statements electronically offers several advantages over traditional paper-based methods:

  • Convenience: Digital storage allows for easy access to bank statements from any device with an internet connection.

  • Security: Reputable financial institutions employ robust security measures to protect sensitive financial data stored digitally.

  • Space Saving: Digital storage eliminates the need for physical storage space, reducing clutter and minimizing the risk of losing or damaging important documents.

Best Practices for Secure Document Storage: Protecting Sensitive Information

To ensure the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive financial information, individuals should adhere to best practices for secure document storage:

  • Password Protection: Use strong passwords to protect access to digital documents and online accounts.

  • Encryption: Consider encrypting sensitive documents to prevent unauthorized access.

  • Regular Backups: Regularly back up digital documents to protect against data loss due to hardware failure or cyberattacks.

Shredding Documents: A Responsible Disposal Method for Sensitive Information

When it’s time to dispose of sensitive financial documents, shredding is the most secure method to prevent identity theft or fraud. Cross-cut shredders are recommended to ensure documents are rendered unreadable.

Determining how long to keep bank statements requires a balance between meeting tax obligations, safeguarding financial information, and managing personal preferences. While the IRS recommends retaining bank statements for at least three years, individuals may choose to keep them for longer periods for various reasons. Digital storage offers a convenient and secure solution for bank statement retention, while shredding remains the most responsible method for disposing of sensitive documents. By understanding these guidelines and best practices, individuals can effectively manage their financial records and protect their personal information.

How long to keep bank statements, tax returns and more


How many years of bank statements should you keep?

Most bank statements should be kept accessible in hard copy or electronic form for one year, after which they can be shredded. Anything tax-related such as proof of charitable donations should be kept for at least three years.

Is there any reason to keep old bank statements?

Documents that fall into this category include non-tax-related bank and credit card statements, investment statements, pay stubs and receipts for large purchases. Keep these records on hand for a year if you need them to support your current-year tax preparation or as proof of income when making a large purchase.

What financial records should be kept for 7 years?

KEEP 3 TO 7 YEARS Knowing that, a good rule of thumb is to save any document that verifies information on your tax return—including Forms W-2 and 1099, bank and brokerage statements, tuition payments and charitable donation receipts—for three to seven years.

What happens to bank statements after 7 years?

For checks, this retention period is 5 years. Beyond those minimums, banks will often keep records of closed accounts for 7-10 years after closure. This allows them to reference for any potential issues. After about 10 years, banks usually archive the records offline or to microfilm/digital storage.

How long should you keep bank statements?

Patrina Dixon, CFEI and owner of P. Dixon Consulting, LLC, recommends keeping any bank statements or other important financial documents for up to seven years in case you’re audited. If you would prefer to minimize your paper trail, Dixon advises opting for online bank statements.

How long do banks keep credit card statements?

Usually, how long banks tend to keep credit card statements or similar documents is around a year (and up to three years depending on the bank). If you need statements for longer periods, you can contact the bank and request them, and the bank should send them to you by email or in the mail within days.

How long can you keep tax statements?

Either way, you’ll be able to access them for as long as you decide to keep them. If you’ve used any statements to help calculate your taxes, save them—along with your tax return—for at least seven years, in case the IRS has any questions. See Experian’s guide to storing financial documents for tips on how to maintain them safely and securely.

How long can a bank keep records?

Banks are legally required to keep records for at least five years, and they may not hang onto them for seven years. If you’re unsure, contact your bank to find out if you would have access to your statements after seven years. SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A.

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