How can a record retention schedule help you?

The complaint that I hear the most often when dealing with paperwork is “I don’t know how long to keep anything!” That is where a record retention schedule comes in handy. A schedule can help you purge through your files and paperwork in no time.

Use the retention schedule below when you are figuring what to keep and what to toss. The chart below is a guideline only, please consult with your tax accountant and/or attorney about your paticular situation.

Accident reports/claims (settled cases) – 7 years

Accounts payable ledgers and schedules – 7 years

Accounts receivable ledgers and schedules – 7 years

Audit reports – Permanently

Bank reconciliations – 2 years

Bank statements – 3 years

Capital stock and bond records, stubs showing issues record of interest coupons, options, etc. – Permanently

Cash books – Permanently

Charts of accounts – Permanently

Checks (cancelled – see exception) – 7 years

Checks (cancelled – important payments such as taxes, property purchases, special contracts) – Permanently

Contracts (mortgage, notes, leases still in effect) – 7 years

Correspondence (general) – 2 years

Correspondence (legal and important matters only)- Permanently

Correspondence (customers and/or vendors)- 2 years

Deeds, mortgages, bills of sale – Permanently

Depreciation schedules – Permanently

Duplicate deposit slips – 2 years

Employment application – 3 years

Expense analysis/expense distribution schedules – 7 years

Financial statements (year-end) – Permanently

Garnishments – 7 years

General private ledgers, year-end trial balance – Permanently

Insurance policies (expired) – 3 years

Insurance records,accident reports,claims,policies -Permanently

Internal reports (audits) – 3 years

Internal reports (misc.) – 3 years

Inventories or products, materials, supplies – 7 years

Invoices – 7 years

Journals – Permanently

Magnetic tape and tab cards – 1 year

Minute books of directors, stockholders, by-laws, charter- Permanently

Notes receivable ledgers and schedules – 7 years

Option records (expired) – 7 years

Patents and related papers – Permanently

Payroll records and summaries – 7 years

Personnel files (terminated) – 7 years

Petty cash vouchers – 3 years

Physical inventory tags – 3 years

Plant cost ledgers – 7 years

Property appraisals – Permanently

Property records (costs, depreciation reserves, year-end trial balances, depreciation schedules, blueprints, plans)- Permanently

Purchase orders (purchasing dept) – 7 years

Purchase orders (other) – 1 year

Receiving sheets – 1 year

Retirement and pension plans – Permanently

Requisitions – 1 year

Sales commission reports – 3 years

Sales records – 7 years

Scrap and salvage records (inventories, sales, etc) – 7 years

Stenographers notebooks – 1 year

Stock and bond certificate (canceled) – 7 years

Stockroom withdrawal forms – 1 year

Susidiary ledgers – 7 years

Tax returns, worksheets, revenue agents’ reports -Permanently

Time books/cards – 7 years

Trademark registrations and copyrights – Permanently

Training manuals – Permanently

Union agreements – Permanently

Voucher register and schedules – 7 years

Vouchers for payments to vendors, employees (for travel and entertainment expenses) – 7 years

Withholding tax statements – 7 years

This is just a brief listing of records and how long to keep them. Although most pertain to business you can use some of the guidelines for home filing as well. Example: Bank Statements. Here are some other resources for file retention guidelines. As always be sure to discuss with your attorney or tax consultant.

Better Business Bureau


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