SHRED documents with personal information and SHED away your worries of identity theft ….and paper clutter!
“How long do I have to retain tax documents?”
Seriously, though, with every tax season (and basically all year long), I am repeatedly asked this question. Answers vary based on your circumstances, but according to the IRS, the general answer is three years. There are, of course, many exceptions so if you own a small business or have other special circumstances, confirm your personal requirements here and also check with your accountant. For more information, the IRS website offers helpful tips for managing your tax records. Now that you have permission to clear out old tax returns, records, and all that unnecessary paper filling your home, it’s time to do it right.
Identity Theft Is Real
With the threat of identity theft, it’s recommended that you dispose of your personal information safely. Don’t just throw it away – better to shred it. But shredding can be such a time-consuming and slow process, you say? Well, I agree. Here are some less painful options:
Support Your Community Shred Event
Check with your surrounding towns for a local paper shredding event. These are typically offered several times a year (fall/spring) and raise funds for a local town service like the senior center. The beauty of this is that they can add you to their mailing list and you will be notified in advance so you can gather your papers.
Some towns offer free shredding if you prove that you live in the town. Dates are listed on the town website or calendar.
Can’t wait for the Shred Event?
Can’t wait six months for the next shred event? There are many other options for immediate shredding gratification. For example, Staples offers shredding for a small fee based on weight. Local pack and ship locations or UPS drop off facilities also offer shredding.
Have too much paper to load into the car?
There are many companies that can come to your house. Eco-Shred is local to New Jersey and they will drop off a large bin (looks like a trash can) at your home. You fill it up, lock it, and they shred your sensitive papers at an offsite facility. Or, if you prefer on-site shredding, there are companies like Safe Shredding who come to your house. For about $125 you can have approximately twenty bankers boxes shredded right in front of your home or office.
Of course, at Smartly Organized we recommend that our clients invest in a home shredder. There are plenty of options at various price points but we suggest getting one that can manage at least 10 pages at a time and that cross-cuts the papers into small pieces. Cross-cutting is pretty standard these days but now some home shredding machines can even manage staples and paperclips.
So, as you can see, there really is no excuse for not shredding sensitive personal documents. Be sure to add regular shredding to your organizational process and don’t let years and years of paper (accidentally) build up in your home.