‘We keep that paperwork for how long again?’ A record-retention checklist

It’s a fine line: You certainly don’t want to discard records too soon – that would make an audit even more of a headache.  Still, you don’t want to hold on to paper any longer than you have to.
Some companies are using the current slowdown in business to do a little housekeeping.

Here’s a record-retention refresher worth circulating throughout your finance department:

3 years: bank deposit slips, budgets and employment applications for people you didn’t hire.

4 years: vacation/sick pay records, FICA/FUTA/Income Tax withholding and payroll registers.

5 years: accounting authorizations, accounting correspondence, dental benefits, garnishments, life insurance benefits and safety reports.

6 years: internal audit docs, insurance appraisals and salesperson commission reports.

7 years: A/P and A/R ledgers, aging reports, A/R invoices, accounts written off, bank reconciliations, bank statements, charge slips, expense reports, petty cash records, purchase orders, vendor invoices, voucher check copies, attendance records, medical benefits and time reports.

8 years: salary histories.

10 years: canceled checks, workers’ comp benefits, expired insurance policies, canceled leases, canceled notes receivable, employee withholding exemption certificates and receiving documents.

Everything else goes on your company’s “never-purge” list.

Note: When in doubt, check with your company’s CPA firm.

0 thoughts on “‘We keep that paperwork for how long again?’ A record-retention checklist”

  1. The retention periods listed here are much longer than the list I have received from my CPA. For example, bank statements and reconciliations are listed as 7 years here, only 5 years and 3 years according to my counsel.
    Also, cancelled insurance policies 10 years? I have specifically asked my insurance agents and they have indicated there is no reason to keep these if we have no pending claims. The insurance agents are supposedly required to keep these policies in their files for several years.

  2. Where is the mention of personell files of former employees. I’ve had companies use 3 yrs to 7 yrs. This company is a pack rat and I swear there are files from the early 90’s!!!! I have tried to explain that anything you have can be supbenoed and I want to limit exposure because most of these files are NOT set up correctly etc but can’t convince them to let go yet.

    How long are ya’ll keeping former employee files?

  3. I’ve always used 3 years for personell files. Companies have to realize that if it’s available if can be subenoued and that is not always a good thing, especially if there have been lots of fingers in the pie that don’t even work here anymore!!

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