Recordkeeping goes beyond tax issues—it's vital as a good business practice. The following guide shows how long you should retain common business records.

Record Retention Guide for Businesses
Accounting Records Retention Period
Accounts payable 7 years
Accounts receivable 7 years
Audit reports Permanent
Chart of accounts Permanent
Depreciation schedules Permanent
Expense records 7 years
Financial statements (annual) Permanent
Fixed asset purchases Permanent
General ledger Permanent
Inventory records 7 years (Permanent for LIFO system)
Loan payment schedules 7 years
Purchase orders (1 copy) 7 years
Sales records 7 years
Tax returns Permanent
Bank Records Retention Period
Bank reconciliations 2 years
Bank statements 7 years
Cancelled checks 7 years (Permanent for real estate purchases)
Electronic payment records 7 years
Corporate Records Retention Period
Board minutes Permanent
Bylaws Permanent
Business licenses Permanent
Contracts -major Permanent
Contracts -minor Life + 4 years
Insurance policies Life + 3 years (Check with your agent. Liability for prior years can vary.)
Leases/mortgages Permanent
Patents/trademarks Permanent
Shareholder records Permanent
Stock registers Permanent
Stock transactions Permanent
Employee Records Retention Period
Benefit plans Permanent
Employee files (ex-employees) 7 years (Or statute of limitations for employee lawsuits)
Employment applications 3 years
Employment taxes 7 years
Payroll records 7 years
Pension/profit sharing plans Permanent
Real Property Records Retention Period
Construction records Permanent
Leasehold improvements Permanent
Lease payment records Life + 4 years
Real estate purchases Permanent

Heiser and Company will be happy to assist you with any questions about these guidelines or help in record retention for your business or household.

Quick Tip: The retention period for electronic and paper records is the same.