HELOISE Circumstances decide time limit for records

Dear Heloise: Please refresh my memory again about the time limit for keeping/destroying canceled checks, tax returns, etc. I have misplaced (or maybe even shredded) your column that outlined this information previously. Thank you. A Reader, Fort Wayne, Ind.
There is a suggested amount of time, but no set standard that will keep you from ever needing a canceled check, tax return, etc. A good rule of thumb is about six years, but according to the Internal Revenue Service, "You must keep records that support items shown on your return until the period of limitations for that return run out" -- depending on circumstances, between three and seven years, with exception to those who did not file a return or filed a fraudulent return. For instance, bank statements, canceled checks and tax returns (from filing date) should be kept for approximately six years or longer. (Note: Even though the chance of audit usually only goes back three years from the time of filing, if it is found that you underreported your income by 25 percent or more, the three years turns into six years that the IRS will go back to check tax returns -- so, to keep it safe, holding on to those tax returns for six to 10 years might be a smart move.) However, most professionals say to keep tax returns forever -- you never know.
Also, divorce papers, birth certificates, life insurance, military-service records and your Social Security card should be kept safe and secure forever.
One more thing: Items such as wills, vehicle titles, household inventory records, credit-card-account information, car/home insurance policies, etc., should be updated immediately after there is a change -- replace with the new and shred the old! There's no need to hold on to these old documents unless there is some unfinished business pertaining to one of them.
Don't forget to check with your tax professional for more record-keeping information pertaining to your individual needs, and let's get those household files organized! Heloise
Dear Heloise: When I need storage for blankets, pillows, quilts, etc., a friend told me about using an old stereo cabinet. Having a 6-foot, old stereo that had two lids that raise, I decided to try it. I totally gutted it, covered the inside and back panel with wallpaper and now use it as a blanket chest. It is a beautiful piece of furniture. Marsha Brown, Artesia, N.M.
Marsha, I have one of those (I paid $20 for it at a rummage sale), and I love it. I just might use your hint. Heloise
Dear Heloise: When ordering meat-and-cheese trays for graduations or receptions, save the lids. Turn them upside down and fill with ice. A meat-and-cheese tray will fit perfectly on top of the lid of ice. It works great to keep the meat and cheese chilled. Emma Griffiths, Angola, Ind.
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, or you can fax it to (210) HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.
King Features Syndicate

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