Records – How Long to Keep?

OK, so the first place to start in this record-purging journey should probably be “What’s required?”. How long should we keep records? A Google search unearthed some differences of opinion, but here’s one source* that seems to be a good summary overall:

Accounting

Auditors reports ………………………………………………………………… Indefinitely
Bank reconciliation …………………………………………………………… 1 year
Bank Statements and Deposit Slips ………………………………………. 3 years
Cash Books …………………………………………………………………….. Indefinitely
Charts of Accounts ……………………………………………………………. Indefinitely
Checks- Canceled-Payroll-General ………………………………………… 8 years
Depreciation Schedules ………………………………………………………. Indefinitely
Dividend Checks- canceled ………………………………………………….. 6 years
Expense Reports 6 years ……………………………………………………. 6 years
Financial Statements-End of Year …………………………………………. Indefinitely
Fixed Assets Detail …………………………………………………………… Indefinitely
General Ledgers and Journals ………………………………………………. Indefinitely
Payroll- Time Cards-Individual Time Reports-Earning Records ……. 3 years
Subsidiary Ledgers (including Receivables and Payables) ………….. 6 years
Trial Balances- Monthly ………………………………………………………. 6 years
Vouchers- for payment to vendor, employees, etc. …………………….. 8 years

Corporate

Bylaws, Charter, and Minute Books ……………………………………….. Indefinitely
Capital- Stock and Bond Records ………………………………………….. Indefinitely
Checks- Taxes, Property, Settlement of important contracts ………… Indefinitely
Contracts and Agreements still in effect ………………………………….. Indefinitely
Copyrights and Trademark Registrations …………………………………. Indefinitely
Deeds and Easements ……………………………………………………….. Indefinitely
Labor Contracts ………………………………………………………………… Indefinitely
Mortgages, Notes, and Lease Expired ……………………………………. 8 years
Patents …………………………………………………………………………… Indefinitely
Proxies …………………………………………………………………………… Indefinitely
Retirement and Pension Records ………………………………………….. Indefinitely
Tax Returns and Working Papers- Revenue Agents Reports ……….. Indefinitely

Correspondence

General …………………………………………………………………………… 2 years
Legal and Tax …………………………………………………………………… Indefinitely
License, Traffic, and Purchase ……………………………………………… 6 years
Production ……………………………………………………………………….. 8 years

Insurance

Accident Reports ………………………………………………………………. 6 years
Claims-After Settlement ………………………………………………………. 10 years
Fire Inspection Reports ……………………………………………………….. 6 years
Group Disability Reports ……………………………………………………… 8 years
Policies- All Types – Expired ………………………………………………… 4 years
Safety Reports ………………………………………………………………….. 8 years

Personnel

Contracts – Expired ……………………………………………………………. 6 years
Daily Time Reports …………………………………………………………….. 6 years
Disability and Sick Benefit Records ……………………………………….. 6 years
Employment Applications ……………………………………………………. 3 years
Personnel Files – Terminated ………………………………………………… 6 years
Withholding Tax Statements ………………………………………………… 6 years

Purchasing and Sales

Purchase Orders ……………………………………………………………….. 3 years
Requisitions ……………………………………………………………………… 3 years
Sales Contracts ………………………………………………………………… 3 years
Sales Invoices …………………………………………………………………… 3 years

Traffic – Shipping and Receiving

Export Declarations ……………………………………………………………. 4 years
Freight Bills ……………………………………………………………………… 4 years
Manifests …………………………………………………………………………. 4 years
Shipping and Receiving Reports …………………………………………….. 4 years
Waybills and Bills of Lading ………………………………………………….. 4 years

Another thing to think about is whether any document under consideration is required to be stored by someone else. For instance, does your personnel department keep a copy of all your organizationi’s personnel records? If so, you don’t need to store them as well – if you need a copy of them in the future, you can always get a copy from Personnel. In our case, our organization is too small to have “departments”, so all records are stored in the same place.

You may decide differently for your organization, but for us, we’ll keep legal and tax records indefinitely, client files for six years, and vendor records for eight years. We’re going to file them in banker’s boxes by year so that each year after taxes are filed we can easily pull and shred the documents older than our limits.

Now we have a plan!

* from prodatastorage.com

 

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