Mountain Rim Fire Safe Council

A pack rat’s guide to shredding

May 1, 2015

by Lisa Weintraub Schifferle Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, Federal Trade Commission

Is your home a pack rat’s paradise? You’re not alone. As you start spring cleaning, are you wondering what to keep and what to shred? We’ve looked at experts’ advice and compiled this summary of how long they recommend keeping certain documents. Put our handy graphic near your shredder as a guide. 

Save forever

Keep documents related to major life events – birth, marriage, divorce, and death. Lock securely:

Birth certificates or adoption papers
Social Security cards
Citizenship papers or passports
Marriage or divorce decrees
Death certificates of family members

Also, keep auto titles and home deeds stored safely for as long as you own the property.

Tax records

This time of year, the big question is: what tax records can you shred, and when can you shred them?

Tax returns – Our conservative advice? It’s best to keep these forever.
Pay stubs – Shred ’em after checking them against your W-2.
Home improvement receipts – Keep these receipts until you sell your home, since certain expenses may reduce your capital gains tax.
Other tax records – like tax-related receipts and cancelled checks – Wait seven years before shredding. Why? While the IRS usually has three years to audit you, it has up to seven years under certain circumstances. (If you file a fraudulent return, then the IRS can audit at any time – but for the average honest taxpayer, seven years works.)

If you’re unsure what tax records to keep, consult an accountant or call IRS Taxpayer Assistance at 800-829-1040.

Other records

Most experts suggest that you can shred many other documents sooner than seven years. After paying credit card or utility bills, shred them immediately. Also, shred sales receipts, unless related to warranties, taxes, or insurance. After one year, shred bank statements, pay stubs, and medical bills (unless you have an unresolved insurance dispute).   

For those who are thinking, maybe I should keep everything, just in case. . . remember that identity thieves can’t find documents you have destroyed. Destroying documents with your personal information reduces the likelihood of becoming an identity theft victim.

Shredding is just one way to reduce the risk of identity theft. For other tips on preventing identity theft, visit

COME FEED THE BEAST!  Let's fill this truck up!

Get rid of all your INTERIOR FUELS - shred your old documents, newspapers, magazines, etc.

Bring your paper to the following locations and watch it be destroyed right in front of your eyes!  No worry about your personal info being found later!

NO Metal or Hard Plastics!  Manila folders, envelopes, magazines, paperback books, paper clips and staples, binder clips, acco fasteners OK

Coming to Crestline on Saturday, September 21st -
Rim of the World Recreation & Park District's

Lake Gregory Education/Community Center,

24740 San Moritz Way, Crestline
10am to 2pm, or until 8,500 lbs. of material is received.

Coming to Running Springs on Saturday, September 28th -

Parking lot of First Mountain Bank, next to Chamber's Farmer's Market

2465 Whispering Pines, Running Springs

10am to 2pm, or until 8,500 lbs. of material is received.

We will be back in June 2020!

Thanks to a grant from CAL FIRE's California Climate Investments Program, MRFSC will be offering FREE paper shredding across the mountain through September this year and we will be back in 2020!