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Records Retention Guidelines

This handy list provides guidelines on how long to keep important files.


RecordType                                                                          Retention Period

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;ledgers, transfer

registers, stubs showing issues, record of interest

coupons, options, etc.                                                          Permanently

Bankruptcy petition and discharge                                    Permanently

Cash books                                                                           Permanently

Chart of accounts                                                                Permanently

Checks (canceled-see exemption below)                           7 years

Checks (canceled for important payments, I.e. taxes,

purchases of property, special contracts, etc. Checks

should be filled with the papers pertaining to the

underlying (transactions)                                                   Permanently

Contracts, mortgages, notes, and leases (expired)           7 years

Contracts, mortgages, notes, and leases (still in effect)   Permanently

Correspondence (general)                                                  2 years

Correspondence (legal and important matters only)       Permanently

Correspondence (routine) with customers and/or

vendors                                                                                2 years

Deeds, mortgages, and bills of sale                                   Permanently

Depreciation schedules                                                      Permanently

Duplicate deposit slips                                                       2 years

Employment applications                                                   3 years

Expense analysis / expense distribution schedules         7 years

Final account statements                                                   Permanently

Financial statements (year-end, other optional)               Permanently

Garnishments                                                                     7 years

General/private ledgers, year-end trail balance               Permanently

Home improvement receipts                                             Until sale of home

Insurance policies (expired)                                               3 years

Insurance records, current accident reports, claims,

policies, etc.                                                                        Permanently

Internal audit reports (longer retention periods may be desirable)3 years

Internal reports (miscellaneous)                                       3 years

Inventories of products, materials, and supplies             7 years

Invoices (to customers, from vendors)                              7 years

Journals                                                                               Permanently

Magnetic tape and tab cards                                            1 year

New-car sticker, original paperwork and repair receiptsLife of the car

Notes receivable ledgers, and schedules                        7 years

Option records (expired)7 years

Patents and related papersPermanently

Payroll records and summaries7 years

Personnel files (terminated)7 years

Petty cash vouchers3 years

Physical inventory tags3 years

Plant cost ledgers7 years

Property appraisals by outside appraisersPermanently

Property records, including costs, depreciation reserves, year-end trial balances, depreciation schedules, blueprints, and plansPermanently

Purchase orders (except purchasing department copy)1 year

Purchase orders (purchasing department copy)7 years

Receiving sheets1 year

Retirement and pension recordsPermanently

Requisitions1 year

Sales commission reports3 years

Sales records7 years

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

Stenographer’s notebooks1 year

Stock and bond certificates (canceled)7 years

Stockroom withdrawal forms1 year

Subsidiary ledgers7 years

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

Tax return supporting documents7 years

Time books/cards7 years

Trademark and copyrights registrationsPermanently

Training manualsPermanently

Union agreementsPermanently

Vouchers register and schedules7 years

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

Withholding tax statements7 years


Take Charge! Organize. does not represent the accuracy or reliability of the information provided. Consult with your attorney or accountant to determine what is appropriate for you.  You acknowledge and agree that any reliance upon the information contained in this document shall be at your sole risk.

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