How Long You Must Keep Business Documents

Business Record Retention Schedule

Business owners often ask us how long they must keep paper documents or electric records.

This is a general guide. These are best practices for the minimum period of time you should keep documents. Please note, your circumstances may require longer periods, and requirements very from state to state.

Record Retention Period
Accident reports & claims for settled cases 7 Years
Accounts payable ledgers & schedules 7 Years
Accounts receivable ledgers & schedules 7 Years
Audit reports of accountance Permanently
Capital stock & bond records; ledgers, transfer registers, stubs showing issues, record of interest coupons, options, etc. Permanently
Cash books Permanently
Charts of accounts Permanently
Checks (cancelled, but see exception below) 7 Years
Checks (cancelled for important payments, i.e., taxes, property purchases, special contracts, etc.) Checks should be filed with papers pertaining to the underlying transaction Permanently
Contracts & leases (expired) 7 Years
Contract & leases still in effect Permanently
Correspondence (legal & important matters only) Permanently
Deeds, mortgage & bills of sale Permanently
Depreciation schedules Permanently
Duplicate deposit slips 1 Year
Employee personnel records (after termination) 3 Years
Employment applications 3 Years
Expense analysis & expense distribution schedules 7 Years
Financial statements (end-of-year, other months optional) Permanently
General & private ledgers (and end-of-year trial balances) Permanently
Insurance policies (expired) 3 Years
Internal audit reports 3 Years
Internal reports (miscellaneous) 3 Years
Inventories of product, materials & supplies 7 Years
Invoices to customers 7 Years
Invoices from vendors 7 Years
Journals Permanently
Minute books of directors & stockholders, including by-laws & charter Permanently
Notes and receivable ledgers & schedules 7 Years
Option records (expired) 7 Years
Payroll records & summaries, including payments to pensioners 7 Years
Petty cash vouchers 3 Years
Physical inventory tags 3 Years
Plant cost ledgers 7 Years
Property appraisals by outside appraisers Permanently
Property records, including costs, blueprints & plans Permanently
Purchase orders (except purchasing department copy) 1 Year
Purchase orders (purchasing department copy) 7 Years
Receiving sheets 1 Year
Requisitions 1 Year
Sales records 7 Years
Savings bond registration records of employee 3 Years
Scrap & salvage records (inventories, sales, etc.) 7 Years
Stock & bond certificates (cancelled) 7 Years
Stockroom withdrawal forms 1 Year
Subsidiary ledgers 7 Years
Tax returns & worksheets, revenue agents’ reports & other documents relating to determination of income tax liability Permanently
Time books 7 Years
Trade mark registrations Permanently
Voucher register & Schedules 7 Years
Vouchers for payments to vendors, employees (includes allowances & reimbursement of employees officers, etc. for travel & entertainment expenses) 7 Years