Broker Check

l

Document Retention Periods

Tax returns can generally be audited for up to three years after filing and up to six years if the IRS suspects underreported income. It is wise to keep tax records at least seven years after a return is filed. Requirements for records kept electronically are the same as for paper records.

Click here for IRS small business and self-employed recordkeeping guidelines.

Generally, follow these recommended periods for various documents:

Individual Records

Retention Period

  • Tax Returns (uncomplicated)
  • Tax Returns (all others)
  • W-2s
  • 1099s
  • Cancelled checks supporting Tax deductions
  • Bank Deposit Slips
  • Bank Statements
  • Charitable Contribution Documentation
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Receipts, Diaries, Logs pertaining to Tax Return
  • Investment Purchase and Sales Slip
  • Dividend Reinvestment Records
  • Year-end Brokerage Statements   
  • Mutual Fund Annual Statements
  • Investment Property Purchase Documents
  • Home Purchase Documents
  • Home Improvement Receipts & Cancelled Checks
  • Home Repair Receipts and Cancelled Checks
  • Retirement Plan Annual Reports
  • IRA Annual Reports    
  • IRA Nondeductible Contributions Form 8606
  • Insurance Policy
  • Divorce Documents
  • Loans
  • Estate Planning Documents   
  • 7 years
  • Permanent
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • Ownership period + 7 years
  • Ownership period + 7 years
  • Ownership period + 7 years
  • Ownership period + 7 years
  • Ownership period + 7 years
  • Ownership period + 7 years
  • Ownership period + 7 years
  • Warranty period for item
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Life of policy + 3 years1
  • Permanent
  • Term of Loan + 7 years
  • Permanent

BUSINESS Accounting Records

  • Accounts Payable
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Audit Reports
  • Chart of Accounts
  • Depreciation Schedules
  • Expense Records
  • Financial Statements (annual)
  • Fixed Asset Purchases 
  • General Ledger
  • Inventory Records 
  • Loan Payment Schedules 
  • Purchase Orders (1 copy) 
  • Sales Records
  • Tax Returns

Retention Period

  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • 7 years
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • 7 years3
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • Permanent

Bank Records

  • Bank Reconciliations
  • Bank Statements
  • Cancelled Checks
  • Electronic Payment Records

Retention Period

  • 2 years
  • 7 years2
  • 7 years
  • 7 years

Corporate Records

Retention Period

  • Board Minutes
  • Bylaws
  • Business Licenses
  • Contracts – Major
  • Contracts – Minor
  • Insurance Polices
  • Leases / Mortgages
  • Patents  / Trademarks 
  • Shareholder Records
  • Stock Registers
  • Stock Transactions
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Life + 4 years
  • Life + 3 years3
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Permanent

Employee Records

Retention Period

  • Benefit Plans
  • Employee Files (ex-employees)
  • Employee Applications
  • Employee Taxes
  • Payroll Records
  • Pension/Profit Sharing Plans
  • Permanent
  • 7 years4
  • 3 years
  • 7 years
  • 7 years
  • Permanent

Real Property Record

Retention Period

  • Construction Records
  • Leasehold Improvements
  • Lease Payment Records
  • Real Estate Purchases
  • Permanent
  • Permanent
  • Life + 4 years
  • Permanent

1Permanent for LIFO System.
2Permanent for real estate purchases.
3Check with your agent. Liability for prior years can vary.
4Or statute of limitations for employee lawsuits.