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Record Retention / Laws

Record Retention Periods

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The following types of records and retention periods are general guidelines, and may differ by industry.

Accident Reports/Claims (settled cases)

7 Years

Accounts Payable Ledgers and Schedules

7 Years

Accounts Receivable Ledgers and Schedules

8 Years

Audit Reports

Permanently

Bank Statements

3 Years

Capital Stock and Bond Records (ledgers, transfer registers, stubs showing issues, record of interest coupons, options, etc.)

Permanently

Charts of Accounts

Permanently

Checks (Cancelled checks for important payments, special contracts, purchase of assets, payment of taxes, etc.)

Permanently

Checks (Cancelled except those noted above)

7 Years

Contracts and Leases (Expired)

7 Years

Contracts and Leases still in effect

Permanently

Correspondence (General) and schedules

2 Years

Correspondence (Legal) and important letters

Permanently

Correspondence (Routine) with customers and vendors

2 Years

Deeds, Mortgages and Bills of Sale

Permanently

Depreciation Schedules

Permanently

Employee Personal Records (Following termination)

7 Years

Employee Applications

3 Years

Financial Statements (Year-end - other months are optional)

Permanently

General Ledgers and Year-end Trial Balances

Permanently

Insurance Records and Policies

Permanently

Internal Audit Reports

3 Years

Inventory Records

7 Years

Invoices (To customers or from vendors)

7 Years

IRA and Keogh Plan Contributions, Rollovers, Transfers and Distribution

Permanently

Minute Books of Directors, Stockholders, Bylaws and Charter

Permanently

Payroll Records, Summaries and Tax Returns

7 Years

Petty Cash Vouchers

3 Years

Property Records (Including costs, depreciation reserves, year-end trial balances, depreciation schedules, blueprints and plans)

Permanently

Purchase Orders

3 Years

Receiving Sheets

1 Year

Safety Records

6 Years

Sales Records

7 Years

Stock and Bond Certificates (Cancelled)

7 Years

Subsidiary Ledgers

7 Years

Tax Returns, Revenue Agent Reports, other documents relating to determination of tax liability

Permanently

Time Cards and Daily Reports

7 Years

Trademark Registrations, Patents and Copyrights

Permanently

Voucher Registers and Schedules

7 Years

Vouchers of Payment (To vendors, employees, etc. - Includes allowances and reimbursements of employees, officers, etc. for travel and entertainment expenses)

7 Years

The normal statute of limitations for federal tax returns is three years, but it can be expanded to six years under some circumstances.  The statute of limitations remains open if a return is not filed or if fraud is involved. The Internal Revenue Service can audit a tax return at any time for three years.  Since an individual state's statute of limitations can exceed the federal statute, the number of retention years should be the longer of the two periods.

In deciding upon a record retention schedule, consider keeping indefinitely those records which cannot be recreated by any other office, institution or governmental unit.

 

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