How long should you keep business records?

Every business knows the importance of good record keeping, but just how long do you need to hold onto certain documents? Maintaining adequate records of your business transactions is important for not only tax purposes, but also to serve as a safeguard against unexpected litigation down the road. Here’s an overview of what documents you should keep and for how long.

Record Type Retention Period
Accident reports & claims 7 years
Accounts payable ledgers 7 years
Accounts receivable ledger 7 years
Audit reports Permanent
Bank reconciliations 1 year
Bank statements 7 years
Canceled checks- important Permanent
Canceled checks- other 1 year
Capital stock and bond records Permanent
Cash books Permanent
Charts of accounts Permanent
Contracts & leases-expired 7 years
Contracts & leases in effect Permanent
Correspondence-customers & vendors 1 year
Correspondence-general 3 years
Correspondence-legal Permanent
Deeds, mortgages and bills of sale Permanent
Depreciation schedules Permanent
Duplicate deposit slips 3 years
Employee personnel records after termination 3 years
Employee benefit plan records 7 years
Employment applications 3 years
Expense analysis & distribution schedules 7 years
Financial statements-year end Permanent
Financial statements-other 7 years
General ledgers & trial balances-year end Permanent
Inherited property records & valuations Permanent
Insurance policies-expired 3 years
Insurance records Permanent
Insurance audit reports Permanent
Internal reports Permanent
Inventory records 3 years
Invoices to customers 7 years
Invoices from vendors 7 years
Journals Permanent
Low-income housing records 7 years
Minute books of directors & stockholders Permanent
Notes receivable ledgers 7 years
Option records 7 years
Payroll records 7 years
Petty cash vouchers 3 years
Physical inventory tags 3 years
Property appraisals Permanent
Property records Permanent
Purchase orders 7 years
Receiving sheets 3 years
Requisitions 1 year
Sales records 7 years
Savings bond records-employees 3 years
Scrap & salvage records 7 years
Stock room withdrawal forms 1 year
Subsidiary ledgers 7 years
Tax returns, worksheets & revenue agents’ reports Permanent
Time books 7 years
Trade mark registrations Permanent
Voucher registers 7 years

While this list provides general recommended retention periods, certain circumstances may vary. If you have questions about your particular situation, contact our tax experts at 925.271.8700 or at