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What financial records to keep and how long to keep them

You can't take everything with you, but the following are suggestions about how long you should keep business records on file:

One year

  • Personnel employment applications
  • Purchase orders (except purchasing department copy)
  • Stenographers' notebooks
  • Stockroom withdrawal forms
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Three years

  • Bank reconciliations
  • Duplicate bank deposit slips
  • Expired insurance policies
  • General correspondence
  • Internal audit reports and working papers
  • Petty cash vouchers
  • Physical inventory logs

Seven years

  • Accident reports and claims (settled cases)
  • Accounts payable ledgers (computer runs)
  • Accounts receivable ledgers (computer runs)
  • Automobile logs
  • Bank statements
  • Bills of lading
  • Cash books
  • Commission records
  • Contracts and leases (expired)
  • Employee personnel records after termination
  • Employment tax reports
  • Expense reports
  • General journals
  • Inventory records
  • Invoices to customers and from vendors
  • Payroll records and summaries, including payment to pensioners
  • Personal property tax returns
  • Purchase orders
  • Sales tax returns

Permanently

  • Articles of incorporation
  • Audit reports of public accountants
  • Canceled checks for important payments such as taxes, property acquisition, etc.
  • Capital stock and bond registers
  • Copyrights
  • Correspondence (legal and important matters only)
  • Deeds and mortgages
  • Depreciation schedules
  • Financial statements (year-end -- other months optional)
  • General ledgers and year-end trial balances
  • Licenses and permits
  • Patents
  • Property appraisals by outside appraisers
  • Property records -- costs, blueprints and plans
  • Tax returns and worksheets, revenue agents' reports and other documents relating to determination of tax liability
  • Trademark registrations

Source: Sidney Morgenbesser, CPA

--Updated: May 4, 2001

 

 

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