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How long Should You Keep your Records?

Your business records are essential in the event of an IRS audit. These retention periods are intended as a general guideline. Each business should establish a retention schedule that takes into account state and federal regulations and industry standards appropriate to their business. If you have questions about what records you should keep, you should consult with your CPA. Download printable list here.

Accident reports/claims - settled cases

7 years

 

Internal audit reports (in some situations, longer retention periods may be desirable)

3 years

Accounts payable/receivable ledgers

4 years

 

Internal reports (miscellaneous)

3 years

Audit reports/year end financial statements

Permanently

 

Inventories of products, materials, and supplies

7 years

Bank statements and reconciliations

7 years

 

Invoices & bills to customers/from vendors

7 years

Bills from vendors

7 years

 

Ira/Keogh plan contributions, rollovers, transfers & distributions

Permanently

Capital stock and bond records; ledgers, transfer registers, stubs showing issues, record of interest coupons, options, etc.

Permanently

 

Minute books of directors, stockholders, bylaws and charter

Permanently

Cash books

Permanently

 

Note receivable ledgers/schedules

7 years

Chart of accounts

Permanently

 

Option records (expired)

7 years

Checks (cancelled but see exception below)

7 years

 

Patents

Permanently

Checks (cancelled for important payments, i.e., taxes, purchases of property, special contracts, etc.; checks should be filed with the papers pertaining to the underlying transaction)

Permanently

 

Payroll records and summaries, including summaries and tax returns and payments to pensioners

7 years

Contracts, mortgages, notes and leases - current

Permanently

 

Pension/profit sharing records

Permanently

Contracts, mortgages, notes and leases - expired

7 years

 

Personnel files - terminated employees

7 years

Copyrights

Permanently

 

Petty cash vouchers

3 years

Correspondence (routine) with customers or vendors

1-4 years

 

Physical inventory tags

3 years

Correspondence - legal or tax matters

Permanently

 

Plant cost ledgers

7 years

Deeds, mortgage and bills of sale

Permanently

 

Property appraisals/records

Permanently

Deposit slips

3 years

 

Property records including costs, depreciation reserves, end-of year trial balances, depreciation schedules, blueprints and plans

Permanently

Depreciation schedules

7 years

 

Purchase orders (except purchasing department copy)

1 year

Employee applications

3 years

 

Purchase orders (purchasing department copy)

7 years

Employee personnel records after termination

7 years

 

Receiving sheets

1 year

Expense analyses and expense distribution schedules

7 years

 

Requisitions

1 year

Expense reports

7 years

 

Retirement plan records

Permanently

Financial statements (end-of-year, other months optional)

Permanently

 

Safety records

6 years

General and private ledgers (and end-of-year trial balances)

Permanently

 

Sales records

7 years

Insurance policies - current

Permanently

 

Savings bond registration records

3 years

Insurance policies - expired

4 years

 

Scrap and salvage records - inventories, sales, etc.

7 years

Insurance records, accident reports, claims

Permanently

 

Stock and bond certificates (cancelled)

Permanently

Interim financial statements

4 years

 

Subsidiary ledgers

7 years

     

Tax returns and relating documents

Permanently

     

Time cards and daily reports

7 years

     

Trademark registrations

Permanently

     

Vouchers for payments to vendors, employees, etc. (includes allowances and reimbursement of employees,

7 years

     

W2/W3 forms

7 years

     

Withholding tax statements

7 years


Download printable list here.

Advice and tips provided on the Fathom Graphics website are not a substitute for advice from your CPA, tax preparer or attorney. We are not CPAs or attorneys and do not provide legal or tax advice.