A Clear Perspective

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Record Retention Guide

How long should you hold on to your tax records?
According to the IRS, the basic rule of thumb for ordinary filers is to keep them for three years, or until the statute of limitations (the period of time in which you can amend your tax returns to claim a credit or refund, or the IRS can assess additional tax) runs out. You can use the following guide to help you unclutter that file cabinet:
1 YEAR
  • Copies (miscellaneous)
  • Correspondence (routine)
  • Duplicate Deposit Slips
3 YEARS
  • Appointment Books
  • Correspondence (general)
  • Employee Personnel Records (after termination)
  • Insurance Policies (expired)
  • Internal Reports (misc.)
  • Petty Cash Vouchers
5 YEARS
  • Invoices
  • Loan Documents
  • Notes Receivable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Purchase Orders
7 YEARS
  • Accident Reports and Claims (settled)
  • Accounts Payable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Bank Statements
  • Cancelled Checks (misc.)
  • Employee Expense Reports
  • Employee Payroll Expense
  • Inventory of Products, Materials and Supplies
  • Safety Records
  • Sales Records
  • Scrap and Salvage Records
  • Stock and Bond Certificates (cancelled)
  • Subsidiary Ledgers
  • Time Cards and Daily reports
  • Voucher register and Schedules
  • Voucher for Payments Made
PERMANENTLY
  • Adoption Papers
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Audit Reports of Accountants
  • Birth Certificates
  • Bylaws
  • Capital Stock and Bond Records
  • Cancelled Checks (important payments)
  • Cash Books
  • Charts of Accounts
  • Citizenship Papers
  • Contracts and Leases (expired or existing)
  • Copyright Patent and Trademark Registration
  • Death certificates
  • Deeds, Mortgages and Bill of Sale
  • Depreciation Schedules
  • Divorce Decrees, Alimony and Custody Agreements
  • Financial Statements
  • General and Private Ledgers
  • Insurance Records (existing)
  • Internal Audit Reports
  • Journals
  • Military Records
  • Minute Books
  • Property Appraisals and Records
  • Retirement Plan Information (IRS, 401(k), etc)
  • Savings Bond Registration
  • Tax Returns and Worksheets
  • Training Manuals
  • Union Agreements
  • W-2 forms / Proof of Income