Document Retention Guidelines
Document and record retention is an important issue, and one that our firm frequently receives questions about. Without knowing what the document retention guidelines are, document storage can quickly lead to physical space issues and other problems. At the same time, disposing of records too soon may create legal and tax problems. Although there are no set rules for the retention of all types of records, the following guidelines will help you determine what records to retain, and for how long. The retention period begins the first day of the year following the year in which the document was created or expired.
Rather than saving hardcopies of the documents listed, some may choose to scan the documents and store them electronically on an encrypted flash drive, external hard drive, or a remote back-up service. In the eyes of the IRS, digital document copies are just as good as the originals. However, any paperwork with an original signature or notary seal, like a will or contract, should never be thrown away, even if a back-up digital copy is made. Please note: The retention requirements for electronic records are the same as for paper records.
Although the document retention schedules we’ve outlined are not all-inclusive, they should be of some assistance as you determine which tax and financial records you need keep, and for how long. Please note that this is only a guide; an individual record retention program should be adapted to fit your particular needs. Also, various regulations and statutory requirements unique to your particular business and/or personal situation should be considered and legal counsel consulted before a retention program is put into effect.
As always, HBE’s team of trusted advisors is here to help. For more assistance or to discuss questions you may have related to individual or business document retention, please contact our office (402) 423-4343.