Records Retention Guidelines

Business documents make up an important history of your business transactions with customers, vendors, creditors and employees. These records should be maintained and available to resolve questions that may arise in the future.

As certified public accountants, we are often asked how long we would suggest that you maintain certain types of records. Your business records should be easily accessible to authorized personnel in your business. Your business records should be maintained in accordance with general guidelines set forth below. Certain circumstances involving pending or potential litigation may require an extension of time for record retention. Your legal counsel should be consulted prior to discarding documents that may be subject to an extended retention period.

Special retention requirements may apply to documents or information maintained on computer systems. According to Revenue Ruling 71-20, magnetic media type records "are required to be retained so long as the contents may become material in the administration of any internal revenue law." In general, the holding period for magnetic media is the same as the hard-copy holding period requirements.


 Type of Record

Retention Period

Type of Record

Retention Period

Accident reports & claims

7 years

Accounts payable ledgers

7 years

Accounts receivable ledger

7 years

Audit reports

Permanent

Bank reconciliations

1 year

Bank statements

7 years

Canceled checks- important

Permanent

Canceled checks- other

7 years

Capital stock and bond records

Permanent

Cash books

Permanent

Charts of accounts

Permanent

Contracts & leases-expired

7 years

Contracts & leases in effect

Permanent

Correspondence-Customers & vendors

1 year

Correspondence-general

3 years

Correspondence-legal

Permanent

Deeds, mortgages and bills of sale

Permanent

Depreciation schedules

Permanent

Duplicate deposit slips

3 years

Employee personnel records after termination

3 years

Employee benefit plan records

7 years

Employment applications

3 years

Expense analysis & distribution schedules

7 years

Financial statements-year end

Permanent

Financial statements-other

7 years

General ledgers & trial balances-year end

Permanent

Inherited property records & valuations

Permanent

Insurance policies-expired

3 years

Insurance records

Permanent

Insurance audit reports

Permanent

Internal reports

3 years

Inventory records

7 years

Invoices to customers

7 years

Invoices from vendors

7 years

Journals

Permanent

Low-income housing records

7 years

Minute books of directors & stockholders

Permanent

Notes receivable ledgers

7 years

Option records

7 years

Payroll records

7 years

Petty cash vouchers

3 years

Physical inventory tags

3 years

Property appraisals

Permanent

Property records

Permanent

Purchase orders

7 years

Receiving sheets

3 years

Requisitions

1 year

Sales records

7 years

Savings bond records-employees

3 years

Scrap & salvage records

7 years

Stock room withdrawal forms

1 year

Subsidiary ledgers

7 years

Tax returns, worksheets & revenue agents' reports

Permanent

Time books

7 years

Trade mark registrations

Permanent

Voucher registers

7 years