Record Retention Schedule

How many years should a business keep records?

Some records can be purged after two or three years, but many types of records or documents should be retained for seven years, and some should be retained indefinitely.


Accident reports/claims (settled cases) – 7 yrs.

Accounts payable ledgers and schedules – 7 yrs.

Accounts receivable ledgers and schedules – 7 yrs.

Audit reports – Forever

Bank reconciliations – 2 yrs.

Bank statements (Permanent if cancelled checks are not returned) – 3 yrs.

Capital stock and bond records: ledgers, transfer registers, stubs
showing issues, record of interest coupons, options, etc. – Forever

Cash books – Forever

Checks (cancelled — 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.)] – Forever

Contracts, mortgages, notes and leases (expired) – 7 yrs.

Contracts, mortgages, notes and leases still in effect – Forever

Correspondence (general) – 2 yrs.

Correspondence (legal and important matters only) – Forever

Correspondence (routine) with customers or vendors – 2 yrs.

Deeds, mortgages and bills of sale – Forever

Depreciation schedules – Forever

Duplicate deposit slips – 2 yrs.

Employment applications – 3 yrs.

Expense analyses/expense distribution schedules – 7 yrs.

Financial statements (year end, other optional) – Forever

Garnishments – 7 yrs.

General/private ledgers, year-end trial balance – Forever

Insurance policies (expired) – 3 yrs.

Insurance records, current accident reports, claims, policies, etc. – Forever

Internal audit reports (longer retention periods may be desirable) – 3 yrs.

Internal reports (miscellaneous) – 3 yrs.

Inventories of products, material and supplies – 7 yrs.

Invoice (to/from customer or vendor) – 7 yrs.

Journals – Forever

Magnetic Media*
* The Magnetic Media records retention period may vary based on what information is being stored.
The IRS recently issued procedures regarding retention records on Magnetic Media. – 7 yrs.

Minute books for directors, stockholders, bylaws and charter – Forever

Notes receivable ledgers and schedules – 7 yrs.

Option records (expired) – 7 yrs.

Patents and related papers – Forever

Payroll records and summaries – 7 yrs.

Personnel files (terminated) – 7 yrs.

Petty cash vouchers – 3 yrs.

Physical inventory tags – 3 yrs.

Plant cost ledgers – 7 yrs.

Property appraisals by outside appraisers – Forever

Purchase orders (except purchasing dept. copy) – 1 yr.

Purchase orders (purchasing dept. copy) – 7 yrs.

Receiving sheets – 1 yr.

Retirement and pension records – Forever

Requisitions – 1 yr.

Sales commission report – 3 yrs.

Sales records – 7 yrs.

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

Stenographers’ notebook – 1 yr.

Stock and bond certificates (cancelled) – Forever

Stockroom withdrawal forms – 1 yr.

Subsidiary ledgers – 7 yrs.

Tax returns and worksheets, revenue agents’ reports and other
documents relating to determination of income tax liability – Forever

Time books/cards – 7 yrs.

Trademark registrations and copyrights – Forever

Training manuals – Forever

Union agreements – Forever

Voucher register and schedules – 7 yrs.

Vouchers for payment to vendors, employees, etc. (including allowances and reimbursement
of employees, officers, etc. for travel and entertainment expenses. – 7 yrs.

Withholding tax statements – 7 yrs.

Record Retention

Maintaining records and documents is one of the most overlooked aspect of running a business

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