In the course of your professional and personal life, you have collected many documents. Your first thought is to clear up some of the clutter and throw everything out….but wait; those documents you’re about to throw away might actually need to be retained for a specific period of time! We often get asked by clients how long they should keep their tax returns and the related records, along with many other important documents. In order to assist in determining the length of time you should keep different types of documents we have included below a brief list of key documents. Please note that the periods of time are not specific to paper or digital copies of records. Generally it is a good idea to keep your files digitally (this saves you room in file cabinets), however it is always a good idea to make sure those files are backed up. The Retention is in Years and P = Permanent.

Document Type Suggested Retention
Employment Applications 3
Insurance Policies (expired) 3
FUTA/FICA/Income Tax Withholding 4
Inventory Reports 4
Payroll Tax Returns 4
Sales Tax Returns 4
Insurance Appraisals 6
Commission Reports – Salesperson 6
Accounts Receivable/Payable Ledger 7
Accounts Receivable Aging Reports 7
Accounts Receivable Invoices 7
Accounts Written-off 7
Bank Statements 7
Cash Sales Slips 7
Charge Slips 7
Expense Reports 7
Petty Cash Records 7
Purchase Order 7
Vendor Invoices 7
Withholding Tax Statements 7
Voucher Check Copies 7
Contributions 7
Checks – Payroll 7
338 Election 7
Medical Receipts 7
Forms 1099 Received 7
401 K/Keogh Statements 7
Loan Records / Forms 1098 7
Annuity Year End Statements 7
Insurance Policies – Other 7
Major Purchase Receipts 7
Year-end Brok.  Stmnts/Trade Confirms 7
Certificates of Deposit Statements 7
Schedule K-1’s 7
IRA Statements (deduct. & nondeductible) 7
Salary History 8
Leases/Canceled 10
Employee Withholding Exemption Certif. 10
Balance Sheets P
Cash Disbursement & Receipt Record P
Financial Statements P
Partnership Agreement P
Depreciation Schedule P
Property Appraisals P
Business Permits P
Contracts – Employees P
Copyrights P
Deeds/Titles P
Insurance Records, Accident Rpts, Claims P
Licenses P
Mortgages P
Patents P
Stock and Bond Record P
W-2 Forms P
Tax Free Reorganization P
Canceled Checks – Tax Payments P
Depreciation Schedules P
Income Tax Returns P
Tax Return Copies P
Forms W2 Received P
Insurance Policies – Life P
House Records P
Medical Records P
Wills P
Trust Agreements P
Detailed List of Financial Assets Held P
Military Papers P