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Record Retention Guide

Filing your tax papers away can be a chore. Perhaps you need to make a clean sweep of the file cabinet. The IRS advises that you keep your tax returns forever, but much of the supporting documentation can be destroyed after the statute of limitations for the tax year is over (three years in most cases). You can use the following guide to help make your decision.

1 Year
Copies (misc.)
Correspondence (routine)
Duplicate deposit slips
Stenographer's notebooks

3 Years
Appointment books
Correspondence (general)
Employee personnel records (after termination)
Insurance policies (expired)
Internal reports (misc.)
Petty cash vouchers

5 Years
Loan documents
Notes receivable ledgers and schedules
Purchase orders

7 Years
Accident reports and claims (settled)
Accounts payable ledgers and schedules
Bank statements
Brokerage statements
Cancelled checks (misc.)
Employee expense reports
Employee payroll records
Inventory of products, materials and supplied
Safety records
Sales records
Scrap and salvage records
Stock and bond certificates (cancelled)
Subsidiary ledgers
Time cards and daily reports
Voucher register and schedules
Voucher for payments made

Adoption papers
Articles of incorporation
Audit reports of accountants
Birth certificates
Capital stock and bond records
Cancelled checks (important payments)
Cash books
Chart of accounts
Citizenship papers
Contracts and leases (expired)
Contracts and leases (existing)
Copyright, patent and trademark registration
Death certificates
Deeds, mortgages and bills of sale
Depreciation schedules
Divorce decrees, alimony and child custody agreements
Financial statements
General and private ledgers
Insurance records (existing)
Internal audit reports
Military records
Minute books
Property appraisals and records
Retirement plan information (IRA, 401k, etc.)
Savings bond registration
Tax returns
Training manuals
Union agreements
W-2/proof of income


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