Record Retention Guide for Businesses

In business, good recordkeeping is essential not only for tax reporting purposes but also for the success of the company. The guidelines below give retention periods for the most common business records. Call us if you'd like more information or assistance with your record retention program.

Accounting RecordsRetention Record
Accounts payable7 years
Accounts receivable7 years
Audit reportsPermanent
Chart of accountsPermanent
Depreciation schedulesPermanent
Expense records7 years
Financial statements (annual)Permanent
Fixed asset purchasesPermanent
General ledgerPermanent
Inventory records7 years
  (Permanent for LIFO system)
Loan payment schedules7 years
Purchase orders (1 copy)7 years
Sales records7 years
Tax returnsPermanent

Bank RecordsRetention Period
Bank reconciliations2 years
Bank statements7 years
Cancelled or substitute checks7 years
  (Permanent for real estate purchases)
Electronic payment records7 years

Corporate RecordsRetention Period
Board minutesPermanent
Business licensesPermanent
Contracts major Permanent
Contracts minor Life + 4 years
Insurance policiesLife + 3 years
  (Check with your agent. Liability for prior years can vary.)
Shareholder recordsPermanent
Stock registersPermanent
Stock transactionsPermanent

Employee RecordsRetention Period
Benefit plansPermanent
Employee files (ex-employees)7 years
  (Or statute of limitations for employee lawsuits)
Employment applications3 years
Employment taxes7 years
Payroll records7 years
Pension/profit sharing plansPermanent

Real Property RecordsRetention Period
Construction recordsPermanent
Leasehold improvementsPermanent
Lease payment recordsLife + 4 years
Real estate purchasesPermanent