Some General Guidelines for Record Retention

Every company has different record retention requirements and it makes sense to create a program based upon this. When it comes to both retention and disposal of financial and legal documents associated with your concern you need to abide by certain guidelines. For many the annual disposal or file purging is a scary and sensitive issue. Consequences could be quite harsh in case you haplessly tossed away something crucial. Excepting all extenuating or unusual circumstances, here are the general guidelines that orchestrate retention of information by businesses.

What you shouldn't dispose?

In spite of the need for time-to-time removal of various records there are certain things that companies need to retain indefinitely. Known as permanent records you need to keep them aside for future references without making them add to the bulk of your immediate need documentations. You can keep them as your expanding files and this includes:

• Payment checks, IT returns
• Legal documents, correspondence
• Pension records, retirement
• Trust documents, audits EPA reports
• Statements for buying/selling
• Trade investment conformations

Keep your business records in the permanent file

Stricter rules apply for businesses compared to individual scenarios. Further, in certain industries separate legal standards are present like in law, healthcare, and insurance firms. So, besides the above other permanent files must exist related to financial annual statements, stock records, corporate documents, registration applications, trademarks, licenses, and patents. Also, you need to keep purchase receipt at hand along with documents that substantiate the addition of fixed assets.

Consideration of tax documentation

When it comes to document retention guidelines related to tax records, it states that you keep at least six years’ documentation for ready referral whenever required. IRS may choose to audit such documents for incorrect claim of deductions or presence of errors. So make sure to retain your bank records, entertainment, travel records, payroll, personnel, sale, purchase records, records for bonds, and sold stocks long-term. Also, keep away all the vendor invoices, settled claims for accidents, leases, deeds, or mortgages related to property for the last six years at a safe place.

Save 3 years’ paperwork too

Even such nontax related documents like financial monthly statements, utility records, statements of your credit cards, medical bills and employment applications are worth saving. Make sure that you do not dispose them post-haste because you don't know when the need for them arises. So at least keep them in safekeeping for three years to remain worry free.

Organize your documentation

Keeping all your files and documents effectively organized is extremely important. You can do that in a chronological order so that when the need for a particular file arises, finding it doesn't prove to be much difficult. You can create electronic or manual categories for filing your documents for easy access. Archiving the files based upon the year of origin and the due date for destruction is a good idea. This way, there won't be any confusions regarding both retention and disposal on the due date.

If you are confused regarding the record retention guidelines your company needs to abide by, just contact the experts at

About The Company

Information Requirements Clearinghouse ( provides market leading products and services that help customers reduce costs and risks through implementing legally-defensible records retention and destruction practices.