One of the most common questions asked by business owners is how long they should keep their business records.  The answer depends on several factors: the type of business and what state or regulatory agency requirements apply, for example.  But although there’s no hard-and-fast answer to the problem, the following general guidelines apply to most businesses.

Keep for One Year:

Receiving sheets

Duplicate bank deposit slips


Stockroom withdrawal slips

Bank reconciliations

Purchase orders


Keep for Two Years:

Proxies of voting stockholders


Keep for Three Years:

Insurance policies

Petty cash slips


Physical inventory tags

Internal reports

Employment applications


Keep for Five Years:

Internal audit reports

Excise tax computations


Keep for Seven Years:

Payroll records and related documents

Canceled stock and bond certificates

Accounts payable ledgers

Accounts receivable ledgers

Customer invoices

Vendor invoices

Subsidiary ledgers

Time cards

Vouchers for payments to vendors

Inventory records

Expense analysis schedules

Contracts and leases

Canceled checks

Purchasing department copy of purchase orders

Scrap and salvage records

Sales records


Keep Permanently:

Deeds and mortgages

Credit history

Cash ledgers

Property appraisals

Contracts and leases – major

Accountants’ report

Canceled checks for large and important papers

Insurance records


Trademark registrations

Bills of sale for important purchases

Financial statements

Minute books, bylaws and certificate of incorporation

Correspondence – major matters and legal

Tax returns

Chart of accounts

Records dealing with the company’s capital structure

Property records

General ledgers