When Is It Time to Throw Away Receipts?
Most businesses and homes accumulate mountains of paper over time, from employee and customer records to invoicing, financial and record keeping. When it comes to receipts, it can be difficult to know which ones are safe to discard, what you should keep, and which ones you should shred.
Since the Supreme Court ruled that anyone and everyone is free to search through your trash and recyclables once materials are placed on or in a public space, it pays to safeguard any information that could lead to a breach of security, whether personal or related to your business.
Here are some guidelines to follow regarding secure receipt disposal, while keeping your information safe & secure.
Understanding Receipt Types
Receipts encompass various types, and some are more sensitive than others. While one may be acceptable to discard, another requires professional shredding. The main types of receipts include:
- Purchase receipts: You receive purchase receipts when you buy an item online or in-store. The receipt provides proof of transaction and is handy if you need to return or exchange the product. Information on purchase receipts may include items purchased, how the transaction took place, the date of purchase and applicable taxes.
- Expense receipts: Expense receipts are records of how much you spend on goods or services. These receipts are helpful for tax purposes, business deductions and record-keeping.
- Warranty receipts: Warranty receipts serve as purchase proof and provide information about the warranty coverage you opted for. Warranty receipts establish ownership and record of what services you are entitled to according to the warranty agreement.
- Critical transaction receipts: Important transaction receipts record significant financial transactions — large purchases, money transfers and payments. These transaction receipts typically contain account numbers, reference codes, payment methods, amount paid, dates and sender/receiver details.
Essential vs. Non-Essential Receipts
Essential receipts include documents you should keep for record-keeping, taxes or warranty documents. They often have personal and sensitive information that you must safeguard. Non-essential receipts are documents without personal information, such as a grocery or coffee shop receipt.
Receipt Retention Guidelines
The length of time you keep a receipt depends on the action, event or expense of the document records. According to the IRS, you must keep documents as long as required (see below) to prove deductions on tax returns or income.
Receipt Retention by Type
The typical guideline is to keep essential receipts for three years:
- Past tax returns: Keep for three years.
- Receipts: Save for three years.
- Employment tax records: Keep for four years.
- Miscellaneous financial records: Save for three years.
Factors to Consider When Deciding How Long to Keep Receipts
Factors to consider when determining keep receipts or destroy them:
- Expense type: You will keep major expense receipts longer than everyday grocery receipts. You can retain expense receipts for personal or business budgeting.
- Warranty receipts: You should keep receipts until the warranty period expires. You can scan warranties to keep digital archives and records as an alternative to physical storage.
- Product returns: In the case of returns, you can discard receipts when the exchange of an item is no longer viable.
- Tax requirements: You should keep receipts in line with local tax laws.
- Insurance claims: File any receipts for expensive and major items. Save these receipts to prove ownership and aid you in filing insurance claims when required.
- Legal obligations: Keep certain receipts, such as rental agreements, loans and contracts, as required by the law.
- Personal preference: Depending on your organizational requirements and preferences, you may keep records longer. However, storing documentation for longer than necessary can lead to clutter.
When to Throw Away Receipts
Experts say you can throw away receipts if they contain no personal information, such as retail store or restaurant bill receipts. Here are items you should shred rather than throw away:
- Credit card receipts
- Credit card statements
- Bank statements
- ATM receipts
- Grocery or other store receipts with identifying information — such as a loyalty program number
- Receipts containing your name, address or phone number
- Receipts with a truncated credit card or Social Security number
- Receipts containing your bank account number
- Receipts with your signature
- Used airline tickets
How to Safely Dispose of Receipts
Knowing the best way to shred personal or business receipts and other sensitive information is just as important as knowing what to shred. While a personal or office shredder may seem like the perfect solution for these often tiny slips of paper, personal shredders are ineffective at best, as remains can often be pieced together by criminals, leaving your information to be used against you. The solution? Secure document destruction from TrueShred.
Our process begins when customers select one-time or ongoing shredding services. One-time shredding is ideal for individuals or businesses with a stockpile of receipts, documents, files, or other sensitive data, oftentimes at the end of a retention period or after a large purge.
For ongoing shredding services, TrueShred will place several locked consoles or bins throughout your facility so you can safely deposit receipts or other documentation, which will remain secure until your scheduled appointment time.
Regardless of the frequency of service, your documents and other materials, such as credit cards, CD-ROMs, and DVDs, are destroyed safely and securely, following a strict chain of custody from start to finish:
- A uniformed employee arrives at your home or place of business and collects the information to be shredded. At no time are your materials touched by hand.
- Documents are loaded into on-site, state-of-the-art, mobile shredding trucks, shredded, and mixed in with other materials — you are welcome to view this process via a closed-circuit monitor.
- You will be issued a Certificate of Destruction, meeting all compliance standards.
- Shredded particles are securely recycled, reducing your impact on the environment.
Declutter Paper and Destroy Receipts Safely and Securely With TrueShred
Streamline your document management by securely destroying the receipts you no longer need. Leveraging professional shredding services is the most effective way of dealing with unwanted paperwork while keeping sensitive information safe.
When you need confidential document destruction in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, contact TrueShred online. We look forward to serving your shredding needs — and keeping you in compliance!
TrueShred is an award-winning, NAID AAA Certified shredding company. Our highly trained, professional team has helped thousands of organizations and individuals destroy receipts and documents, leveraging industry-leading equipment. Shredded particles are securely recycled, safeguarding your sensitive material.
Request a quote today.
”I have worked with several document destruction companies over the past ten years and until contracting with TrueShred, I hadn’t met a company with which I felt so compelled to share with professional colleagues. TrueShred’s personnel are always polite, considerate, timely and attentive. . . I trust all of my future shredding needs to TrueShred!”READ MORE