The question on how long to keep records can be confusing but in general there are guidelines to follow. Our document retention guide can help you create a records retention schedule for your business. Knowing when to shred the information your company collects is just as important as having good procedures and security in place for the collection and storage of your documents and data.
If you need additional help, contact our Certified Records Manager. We can provide advice or help you design a retention schedule specific to your business. Your procedures should include how long information should kept and outline guidelines for how data should be discarded. Plan to use a NAID Certified vendor for your destruction if you are outsourcing it.
How Long Should you Keep Your Records?
Purchase orders (except purchasing department copy which should be retained for 7 years)
Accounting trial balances and internal audit reports
Bank deposit slips, reconciliations, statements
Daily sales records
Employment applications of applicants that were not hired
Expired insurance policies (except for environmental or other insurance coverage which may provide coverage for claims discovered at some time in the future should be retained permanently)
Personnel files on former employees
Petty cash vouchers
Mortgages/note agreements (after termination, expiry, disposal)
Fire inspection reports
Group disability reports
Accident report claims-settled cases
Accounts payable ledgers
Account receivable ledgers
Automobile expense logs
Bank debt deduction
Bills of lading
Business facility cost records
Contracts and leases that expired seven years previous
Employee disability benefit records
Employee personnel records should be retained at least 7 years after terminating employment
Employee time cards/daily time reports
Employment tax reports/returns
Expense reports/employee expense reports
Invoices to customers and from vendors
Invoices-sales/cash receipts, merchandise purchase
Invoices-purchases (permanent assets)
Payroll records and summaries, including payments to pensioners, W-2, W-4, annual earnings records, journals
Personal property tax returns
Sales tax, state and local business tax returns
Settled insurance claims
Articles of Incorporation, minutes and bylaws
Audit reports or financial reports prepared by an outside accountant
Canceled checks for important payments including but not limited to taxes, property acquisition, capital purchases, etc.
Capital stock and bond registers/Corporate stock records
Contracts and leases still in force
Copy of W-2
Correspondence (legal and tax matters)
Depreciation records/schedule (life of assets, plus 3 years)
Expired insurance policies covering environmental or other insurance coverage which may provide coverage for claims discovered at some time in the future should be retained permanently
Financial statements (year-end minimum)
General ledgers and journals
IRA contribution and distribution records (3 years after final distribution)
Licenses and permits
LIFO inventory record
Property appraisals by an outside independent appraiser
Property records-costs, blueprints, and plants, inspection reports, etc.
Real estate records
Tax returns and worksheets, revenue agents’ reports and other documents relating to the determination of tax liability
You can also use the Records Retention Schedule provided by the Better Business Bureau. Click here to view.
Disclaimer Notice: The preceding information is only a recommendation and is taken from various sources that recommend the length of time to keep various records. This is not an all-inclusive list as there are many other types of records that you are required to retain for specific purposes. In many cases, there are no laws requiring how long to keep specific records. The reader is advised to use his/her best judgement as to how long to keep various records as the reader may become liable for taxes or other costs if necessary records are not available. The reader must only use these recommendations as a point of information in making his/her decision. The reader is advised to consult with his/her accountant and/or attorney for further information or advice regarding document retention.