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June 2010
How Long Should You Keep Your Business Records?
By Dan Warren

     As a business owner, the April tax deadline is a distant memory, but the piles of financial and tax records at your company are likely still stacking up. While it’s important to keep your business records for as long as they are useful, you may want to establish a retention schedule that takes into account state and federal regulations, as well as industry standards. The guidelines below are intended to be general in nature and do not include all types of records that you may have for your business.

 

Retain Permanently:

• Audit reports

• Board minutes

• Canceled checks for important payments (i.e. taxes, property purchases, special contracts, etc)

• Deeds, mortgages, bills of sale

• Depreciation schedules

• Financial statements

• Insurance records

• Intellectual property records

• Property records

• Tax returns and worksheets

 

Retain Temporarily:

• Account ledgers (7-8 years)

• Bank reconciliations (7 years)

• Bank statements (3 years)

• Canceled checks (see “Retain Permanently” section)

• Employment applications (3 years)

• Employee personnel records (7 years)

• Expense reports (7 years)

• Inventory records (7 years)

• Invoices (7 years)

• Payroll records (7 years)

• W-2 forms (7 years)

 

     Before destroying any records, you should consult with a certified public accountant and/or an attorney. Keep in mind, while you may not need to retain records for tax, audit or other legal purposes, some records may hold historical value for your company.

     Content contributed by the Charlotte office of Elliott Davis, PLLC, an accounting, tax and consulting services firm providing clients the solutions needed to achieve their objectives in 10 offices throughout the Southeast. For more information, contact Dan Warren at 704-808-5210 or visit www.elliottdavis.com.

CPA, Managing Shareholder, Elliott Davis, PLLC
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