How Long Should You Keep Business Records?

how long to keep business records

Business Record Retention

Many business owners and office managers wonder how long records need to be kept — and which ones, specifically? The answer generally depends on the aspect of your business to which the record pertains; e.g. taxes? hiring? regulations? etc. There are a wide range of legal, accounting, and regulatory guidelines for records retention. The answer can also vary depending on your specifics business type or industry.

Keep in mind that electronic communications and documents also need to be included for preservation.

Here are some basic guidelines:

Business Income Tax Returns and Supporting Documentation

Income tax returns for your business and their supporting documents should be kept for 7 years (the period of limitation by which either you may seek to amend your tax return, or the time in which the IRS may audit your tax return).

Employment Tax Records

Employment tax records should be kept for 4 years (including information such as your employer identification number; amounts and dates of wages paid; annuity and pension payments; names, addresses, social security numbers, and dates of employment of employees)

Business Asset Records

Business asset records should be kept “until the period of limitations ends from the year you disposed of the property” according to the IRS (to help you calculate depreciation, amortization, and gains or losses on that property)

Business Ledgers and Other Key Documents

Business ledgers and other key documents including financial statements, annual reports, corporate by-laws and amendments, Board of Director information, and annual meeting minutes should be kept permanently.

Human Resources Files

Human resource files should be kept for 7 years after an employee has left or been terminated (for job applicants who were not hired = 3 years; for an employee who suffered an accident on the job = 7 years)

Other Business Records

  • Canceled Checks = 7 years
  • Bank Account and Credit Card Statements = 7 years
  • Ownership Records = permanently (including articles of incorporation, director and shareholder meeting minutes, stock ledgers, etc.)

(Note: These suggestions should not take the place of consulting with a professional to make sure you are in compliance with requirements specific to your industry and organization.)

Business Document Storage and Management in Fort Wayne

It’s understandable why business people everywhere feel confused by requirements and regulations AND swamped with paperwork. That’s how Federal Records Management & Shredding can help! Business records management is important that’s why our staff is always up-to-date on the latest requirements for records retention. We can train your staff to understand these requirements and regulations, too which can reduce your liability. And, we offer state-of-the-art records retention storage, databases, and one-day record retrieval services — all right here at our convenient to downtown Fort Wayne location.

To avoid identity theft and protect sensitive business information, be sure to properly destroy business records that you no longer need to retain— another important reason to use Federal Records Management & Shredding!