Records Retention

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Sample Records Retention Policy Information

Records retention is records retention! The courts today do not differentiate between what is in hard copy form, and that in soft copy, or digital, form. The following is for information purposes only. The information provided was pulled from multiple sources and is not offered as legal advice. You are responsible for determining required, legislated, retention periods based on your profession, industry, state and federal laws.

The following list details which records must be kept permanently and which can be discarded after a time.  The suggested retention time period generally begins at the end of the fiscal year in which the paper was created.  For employment records, the schedule begins after the employee terminates.  Items supporting your tax returns would be retained a minimum of three years after the applicable tax return was filed.

Permanent Records

  • Annual Financial Statements
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Pension Records
  • Company Stocks and Bonds
  • Property Records including account ledgers, appraisals, plan specifications and sales
  • Deeds
  • Dividend Registers
  • Tax Return (estate, gift and income)
  • General Ledgers
  • Title Papers
  • Contracts, Changes and Specifications
  • Audit Reports
  • Union (Labor) Contracts
  • Trademark Records
  • Minutes of Meetings
  • Warrants
  • Note Registers
  • Year End General Journal Entries

Ten Years

  • Check Registers
  • Personal Property Tax Returns
  • Corporate Contacts
  • Sales and Use Tax Returns
  • Franchise Agreements
  • Voucher Registers
  • Accounting Journals
  • Workers' Compensation Reports
  • Tax Records

Seven Years

  • Accident Reports
  • Notes
  • Bank Statements
  • Options
  • Checks
  • Plant Acquisition Records
  • Correspondence
  • Property Damage Reports
  • Depreciation Schedules
  • Employee and Vendor Contracts
  • Purchase Invoices
  • Employment Applications and Contracts
  • Sales Invoices, Slips and Work Records
  • Payroll Tax Returns
  • Fixed Asset Records
  • Social Security Tax Returns
  • Inventory Records
  • Uncollectible Accounts Records
  • Invoices
  • Vouchers
  • Leases
  • Equipment
  • Withholding and Exemption Certificates
  • Maintenance and Repair Records
  • W-2 Forms
  • Mortgage Records
  • Personnel Files
  • Paychecks
  • Unemployment Claims

Five Years

  • Bills of Lading
  • Fire Damage Reports
  • Cost Accounting Records
  • Freight Draft, Bills and Claims
  • Daily Time Reports
  • Shipping Tickets
  • Sales Commission Reports
  • Expense Reports

Three Years

  • Bank Deposit Slips
  • Insurance Policies (after expiration)
  • Bank Reconciliations
  • Petty Cash Records
  • Budgets
  • Purchase Order Copies
  • Delivery Receipts
  • Receiving Reports
  • Remittance Statements
  • Fidelity Bonds
  • Requisitions
  • Interim Financial Statements
  • Surety Bonds
  • Garnishments
  • Travel Records

One Year

  • Licenses (after expiration)

Retention Table

While the above list is great as a simple overview of the type of records which should be retained, the following table organizes these slightly different and includes specific items. Again, you should verify your retention policy against state and federal, or industry specific requirements.


Auditors' Report/Annual Financial Statements Permanently
Bank Statements and Deposit Slips 7 Years
Cancelled Checks:
- Fixed Assets Permanently
- Taxes (Payroll Related) 7 Years
- Taxes (Income) Permanently
- General 7 Years
- Payroll 7 Years
Cash Disbursements Journal Permanently
Cash Receipts Journal Permanently
Chart of Accounts Permanently
Deeds, Mortgages, Bills of Sale Permanently
Electronic Payment Records 7 Years
Employee Expense Reports 7 Years
Fixed Asset Records (Invoices, Cancelled Checks, Depreciation Schedules) Permanently
Freight Bills and Bills of Lading 7 Years
General Journal Permanently
General Ledger Permanently
Inventory Listings and Tags 7 Years
Invoices: Sales to Customers/Credit Memos 7 Years
Patent/Trademark and Related Papers Permanently
Payroll Journal Permanently
Production and Sales Reports 7 Years
Purchases 7 Years
Purchase Journal Permanently
Purchase Orders 7 Years
Sales or Work Orders 7 Years
Subsidiary Ledgers (Accts. Receivable, Accts. Payable, Equipment) 7 Years
Time Cards and Daily Time Reports 7 Years
Training Manuals Permanently
Trial Balance - Year End Permanently


Actuarial Reports Permanently
Allocation and Compliance Testing 7 Years
Brokerage/Trustee Statements Supporting Investments 7 Years
Financial Statements Permanently
General Ledger and Journals Permanently
Information Returns (Form 5500) Permanently
Internal Revenue Service/Department of Labor Correspondence Permanently
Participant Communications related to Distributions, Terminations, Beneficiaries 7 Years
Plan and Trust Agreements Permanently


Accident Reports and Settled Claims 6 Years after settlement
Fire Inspection and Safety Reports 7 Years
Insurance Policies (still in effect) Permanently
Insurance Policies (expired) 7 Years


Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws Permanently
Buy-sell Agreements Permanently
Contracts and Leases (still in effect) Permanently
Contracts and Leases (expired) 7 Years
Employment Agreements 7 Years
Legal Correspondence Permanently
Minutes Permanently
Partnership Agreements Permanently
Stock Certificates and Ledgers Permanently


Child Labor Certificates and Notices 3 Years
Employment Application (from date of termination) 2 Years
Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9 Form) 3 Years
Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9 Form)
(from date of termination)
3 Years
Help Wanted Ads and Job Opening Notices 2 Years
Personnel Files (from date of termination) 4 Years
Records of job injuries causing loss of work 5 Years
Safety: chemical and toxic exposure records 30 Years
Union agreements and individual employee
contacts (from date of termination)
3 Years


IRS or FTB Adjustments Permanently
Payroll Tax Returns 4 Years
Property Basis Records Permanently
Sales and Use Tax Returns Permanently
Tax Returns and Cancelled Checks for Tax Payments Permanently