How Long to Keep Records?

I get asked one difficult question frequently.  How long do I have to keep my records? Depending on the size and type of your business you might have to pay storage fees or send them to a government agency. Important records aren’t only needed by the IRS. You have OSHA, SEC, EEOC, and others. Going out of business can even be an exhausting experience. I always tell clients to use caution before disposing of records.

I’m going to run down a list of some records and how long I recommend you keep them. This list is not definite as rules change and states can have different time requirements.  This list might not work for everyone, but take a look. There are electronic storage options that reduce the clutter of having paper records. Going paperless is saving trees, but can help with your record keeping requirements.


Any Legal Contracts – Keep permanently

Annual Financial Statements – Keep permanently

Asset Ledgers and Depreciation Schedules – Keep permanently

Audit Reports – Keep permanently

Documents for major asset purchases – Keep permanently

Employee Medical Records related to exposure of toxic substances – Keep permanently

Entity Structure/ Organizational Documents – Keep permanently

Insurance Policies workers comp, life- Keep permanently

Intangible Asset Records- Keep permanently

Tax Records Income tax returns, income documents like 1099’s, W-2’s, etc. – Keep permanently regardless of what the IRS says

Wills and Trust- Keep permanently

Long Term

Employee Accident Documents after a settlement – 11 years

Employee Procedures Manual – 11 years

Employee Job Descriptions – 11 years

Workers Compensation Documentations – 11 years

Bank Statements – 7 years

Check Ledger – 7 years

Customer & Vendor Invoices -7 years

Inventory Records -7 years

Payroll Checks- 7 years

Personnel Files after termination – 7 years

Sales Records- 7 years

Subsidiary Ledgers for A/R, A/P etc. – 7 years

Time Cards- 7 years