How long should you keep bank statements?

A woman digitizes bank statements to PDF using her laptop.

Are you trying to decide for how long to hold on to your bank statements? Let’s explore the answer to this commonly asked financial question.

You might want to throw out your past bank statements, but what if you need them to prove your income and savings on next year’s taxes? Here’s how long you should keep your bank statements on file.

How long should I keep bank statements for taxes?

Most financial experts say you should keep your bank statements in either digital or hard copy for at least one year. Once they’ve been in the filing cabinet (or your computer hard drive) for one year, you can finally shred the paper or press the delete button.

According to the IRS, you should keep your records for three years from the date you file your original return or two years from the date you paid the tax. Yet, the IRS may ask about returns filed in the last three to seven years, which is why it’s always a good idea to keep your bank statements for longer.

Some of the documents that you may need to verify your income, credits, or deductions claimed for a tax return include receipts, bills, canceled checks, legal papers, loan agreements, business logs, insurance reports, employment papers, medical and dental records, and more.

What is the timeframe for storing bank statements?

Keep in mind that although the IRS recommends keeping your records for at least three years, you’ll want to keep a permanent PDF file copy of each year’s tax return and any payments you make to the government.

7+ years.

Although this depends on your filing circumstances, the IRS may ask you for supporting documentation for three to seven years after you file a return. Therefore, it’s a good idea to save any document that verifies the information on your tax return for seven years or more.

1–3 years.

Experts recommend keeping a PDF copy of your monthly bank and credit card statements. You should also hold on to pay stubs so you can easily access them and use them to verify the accuracy of your Form W-2 during tax season.

Less than a year.

You should consider keeping your utility, cable, and cell phone bills for tax purposes if you’re self-employed.

Why is it important to keep a bank statement PDF?

Keeping your bank statements as PDF files can be helpful when it comes to storing information that you may want to access later, for example, to file taxes. Here’s a list of other reasons why keeping a bank statement PDF is important:

How long are my bank statement PDFs available?

Banks are required by law to keep most records for at least five years, although many banks and financial institutions usually keep their members’ account statements available for up to seven years. You can check with your bank to see how long it will keep a physical version of your financial records.

On the other hand, the general timeline for how long banks keep a digital PDF online version of members’ bank statements is less than seven years. After you review your online bank statement, this will usually be archived and available to you online for up to 18 months. However, if you need a paper copy down the road, your bank should be able to provide you with one.

How to organize and store bank statement PDF files.

The best way to store bank statements is digitally as PDFs.

If you have dozens of bank statements, though, managing so many documents can be cumbersome. Here’s how to simplify your bank statement storage:

  1. Convert to PDF. Convert your bank statements to PDFs online to maintain formatting and make them easier to store.
  2. Merge PDFs. Then you can merge them online to make one easy-to-store file.
  3. Compress PDFs. That many pages in one PDF can make huge file sizes. Compress your PDF online so it takes up less space on your storage device.

That one manageable, compressed PDF can then sit happily in your computer’s hard drive or cloud storage for as long as you need.

You can also scan bank statements to PDF using a free scanner app for safe digital storage and make sure you’re storing them as a secure PDF to protect sensitive information.

More resources on managing finances.

Now that you know how long you should keep bank statements, here are more financial resources to walk through:

And when you need to open and review your files, you can easily do so using a free app like Acrobat Reader. Now that you’ve learned how easy it is to convert, merge, and compress your bank statements into storable PDFs, discover what more you can do with Adobe Acrobat online services.