“How long should I keep my business records and financial documents?” is a common question from entrepreneurs and established business owners alike. Even in the digital, cloud-based era we live in today, it is still a good idea to follow the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach for information storage.

The following Business Records Retention Schedule has been developed strictly as a guide only and should not be solely relied upon. Consult with your accountant and/or legal counsel prior to disposal of your business records if you are uncertain.

 

Business Records Retention Schedule

 

Retain PermanentlyRetain for Seven (7) YearsRetain for Three (3) YearsRetain for One (1) Year
  • Abstracts, deeds, mortgages, bills of sale and other papers pertaining to sale of real estate
  • Audit reports of accountants
  • Books of original entry (i.e., cash receipts and disbursements including general journal entries)
  • Capital stock and bond records; ledgers, transfer registers, stubs showing issues, record of interest, coupons, options, etc.
  • Cash books
  • Charts of accounts
  • Checks (cancelled for important payments, i.e., taxes, purchases of property, special contracts; checks should be filed with the papers pertaining to the underlying transaction) 
  • Contracts and leases still in effect
  • Correspondence (legal and important matters only)
  • Depreciation schedules
  • Employment applications for present employees (rejected employees one year)
  • Financial statements (annual or end-of-year; other months optional)
  • General and private ledgers (also end-of-year trial balances)
  • Insurance records, current accident reports, claims, policies, etc.
  • Investments: security and asset acquisition records
  • IRS audit reports
  • Journals
  • Minute books for directors and stockholders including by-laws and charters
  • Property appraisals by outside appraisers
  • Property records including costs, depreciation reserves, end-of-year trial balances, depreciation schedules, blueprints and plans.
  • Tax returns and worksheets, revenue agents’ reports and other documents relating to determination of income tax liability.
  • Titles
  • Trademark registrations
  • Accident reports and claims (settled cases)
  • Accounts payable ledgers and schedules
  • Accounts receivable ledgers and schedules
  • Bank statements
  • Cancelled checks (except important payments, see ‘retain permanently’)
  • Charge tickets (encounter forms or super bills)
  • Contracts and leases (expired)
  • Employee personnel records (after termination)
  • Expense analyses and expense distribution schedules
  • Insurance policies (expired)
  • Internal audit reports
  • Inventories of products, materials and supplies
  • Invoices to customers
  • Invoices from vendors
  • Notes and receivable ledgers and schedules
  • Option records (expired)
  • Payroll records and summaries including payments to pensioners
  • Petty cash vouchers
  • Plant cost ledgers
  • Purchase orders (purchasing department copy)
  • Royalty statements or computations
  • Sales records
  • Savings bond registration records of employees
  • Scrap and salvage records
  • Stock and bond certificates (cancelled)
  • Subsidiary ledgers
  • Time books
  • Voucher registers and schedules
  • Vouchers for payments to vendors, employees, etc. (includes allowances and reimbursement for travel and entertainment expenses)
  • Correspondence (general)
  • Employee personnel records (after termination)
  • Employment applications
  • Insurance policies (expired)
  • Internal reports (miscellaneous)
  • Physical inventory documentation
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Correspondence (routine, with customers or vendors)
  • Duplicate deposit slips
  • Purchase orders (except purchasing department copy)
  • Receiving sheets
  • Requisitions
  • Stockroom withdrawal forms