Records Retentions Guidelines

Following are charts devised for individuals, businesses, and accounting firms. These charts may be used as a guideline for most record retention; however, always be sure to check federal, local and state record retention requirements. Detail on many on many aspects of record retention, including tax records, can found in Guide to Record Retention Requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations, a publication available from the Superintendent of Documents or from Commerce Clearing House.

Items
Rentention Period
Accident reports and claims (settled cases)
7 yrs
Accounts payable ledgers and schedules
7 yrs
Audit reports of accountants
Permanently
Bank reconciliations
1 yr.
Capital stock and bond records
Permanently
Cash books
Permanently
Chart of accounts
Permanently
Checks (cancelled, but see exception below)
7 yrs
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
Contracts and leases (expired)
7 yrs
Contracts and leases still in effect
Permanently
Correspondence general
3 yrs.
Correspondence (legal and important matters only)
Permanently
Deeds, mortgages, and bills of sale
Permanently
Duplicate deposit slips
1 yr.
Employee personnel records (after termination)
3 yrs.
Employment applications
3 yrs.
Expense analyses and Expense distribution schedules
7 yrs
Financial statements (end-of-year trial balances)
Permanently
General Ledgers (end-of-year trial balances)
Permanently
Insurance policies (expired)
3 yrs.
Insurance records, current accident reports, claims, policies, etc
Permanently
Inventories of products, materials, and supplies
7 yrs
Invoices to customers
7 yrs
Invoices from vendors
7 yrs
Journals
Permanently
Minute books of directors and stockholders, including bylaws and charter
Permanently
Notes receivable ledgers and schedules
7 yrs
Payroll records and summaries
7 yrs
Petty cash vouchers
3 yrs.
Physical inventory tags
7 yrs
Plant cost ledgers
Permanently
Property appraisals by outside appraisers
Permanently
Property records-including costs, depreciation reserves, depreciation schedules, blueprints and plans
7 yrs
Purchase orders
1 yr.
Receiving sheets
1 yr.
Requisitions
7 yrs
Sales records
3 yrs.
Savings bond registration records of employees
7 yrs
Stock and bond certificate (cancelled)
1 yr
Stockroom withdrawal forms
7 yrs
Subsidiary ledgers
7 yrs
Tax returns and worksheets, revenue agents’ reports and other documents
Permanently
Time books
7 yrs
Voucher register and schedules
7 yrs
Voucher for payments to vendors, employees, etc. (includes all allowances and reimbursement of employees, officers)
7 yrs

IRS Practice and Procedure

Sales and receivables

Sales journals
7 yrs.
Shipping tickets
3 yrs.
Accounts receivable ledgers and trial balances
7 yrs.
Invoices
7 yrs.
Uncollectable accounts and write offs
7 yrs.
Expired contracts and notes receivable
7 yrs.

Purchases and payables

Purchase journals
7 yrs.
Bills of lading
3 yrs.
Accounts payable ledgers and trial balances
7 yrs.
Purchase orders
3 yrs.
Paid bills and vouchers
7 yrs.
Expired purchase contracts
7 yrs.

Payroll

Payroll journals
7 yrs.
Time cards
7 yrs.
Payroll reports (federal & state)
7 yrs.
Assignments & garnishments
3 yrs.
Forms W-4
7 yrs.

Accounting Firms

Tax files
In office
In Storage
Present clients
3 yrs.
Permanent
Former clients
3 yrs
7 yrs.
Workpaper files
In office
In Storage
Auditor’s reports, compiled or reviewed reports
Present clients
Permanent
Former clients
3 yrs
7 yrs
Correspondence files
3 yrs
7 yrs

IRS Practice and Procedure

Individual Records
Retention Period
Tax return copies
6 yrs. after filing
Medical bills
6 yrs. after payment
Forms 1099 received
6 yrs. after receipt
Keogh statements
6 yrs. after Keogh termination
IRA records (deductible & nondeductible)
6 yrs. after IRA terminatio
Loan records
6 yrs. after loan payoff
Insurance policies
6 yrs. after expiration
Major purchase receipts
6 yrs. after purchase
Year-end brokerage statements
6 yrs. after securities deposit
Certificates of deposit statements
6 yrs. after maturity
Schedule K-1’s from partnerships or S corporations
6 yrs. after disposition of interest
House records (cancelled checks for purchase, major improvements and maintenance)
Permanent
Birth and death certificates
Permanent
Medical records
Permanent
Wills
Permanent
Forms W-2 received
Permanent
Trust agreements
Permanent
Detailed list of financial assets held
Permanent
Alimony, custody of Prenuptial agreements
Permanent
Military papers
Permanent
Photos or videotape of valuables
Permanent

Note: Documents establishing basis of trade, business or investment assets, or taxpayer’s principal residence should be retained for six years beyond the date of the filing of the tax return for the year in which the asset was disposed.

Business Records

General and financial

Capital stock records
Permanent
Corporate records and minutes
Permanent
Property titles and mortgages
Permanent
Federal, state and local tax returns
Permanent
Fixed asset records and appraisals
Permanent
Accountant’s audit reports
Permanent
Interim and year-end financial statements and trial balances
Permanent
Monthly trial balances
Permanent

Cash

Cash receipts and disbursements
7 yrs.
Bank statements, cancelled checks, and deposit slips
7 yrs.
Bank reconciliations
7 yrs.
Petty cash vouchers
7 yrs.