Here's how long you should keep your tax filings, pay stubs, and other important financial records

It’s easy to get in the habit of hoarding financial documents with the rationale that maybe, someday, you’ll need them again. But if you’re looking to get your financial house in order, be smart about what you keep — not all of it needs to follow you to the grave.

For instance, some items like ATM receipts can be tossed after a month, while pay stubs and investment account statements should be kept for at least a year, or until you verify accuracy with your W-2.

Items like your annual tax return, however, should be filed away and kept forever — the IRS has three years to conduct an audit, but if there’s a chance your income was under-reported, an audit can happen at any time.

Consult the chart below to find out how long to keep each of your most important financial documents:

Samantha Lee/Business InsiderYou don’t need to keep all your financial documents forever.

And while you can safely keep most bank, tax, and investment documents on your computer or a hard drive, you should always have physical copies for these items:

  • Birth certificates
  • Citizenship papers
  • Custody agreement
  • Deeds and titles
  • Divorce certificate
  • Loan/mortgage paperwork
  • Major debt repayment records
  • Marriage licence
  • Military records
  • Passport
  • Powers of attorney
  • Stock certificates
  • Wills and living wills
  • Anything with an original signature or a raised seal

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