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To Keep or Shred: How Long Should You Hold on to Your Documents?

Posted by Sweeney Conrad, PS on Sep 5, 2018 1:25:34 PM

We all know the feeling… it’s time to clean the office and you’re sorting through stacks of documents, filing them away, shredding some, creating more piles… and the questions keep arising. Can I toss this? Is this something important to keep? I’ve been holding on to this for 3 years, surely it’s OK to let it go now?

The short answer is you need to keep them for as long as the IRS can potentially challenge you on the item to which a particular record relates. There is no limit for the IRS to bring an action against someone who has filed a false or fraudulent return.

The following chart provides a general guideline for the retention of many common records.


Accounting Records              Retention Time

General                                        7 years

Payroll                                          7 years

Taxes (income)                           Permanently

Chart of Accounts                      Permanently

General Journal                          Permanently

General Ledger                           Permanently


Legal Documents                       Retention Time

Minutes                                             Permanently

Real Estate                                        Permanently

Stock Certificates and Ledgers      Permanently


Tax Records                                 Retention Time

Payroll Tax Returns                       Permanently

Sales and Tax Returns                  Permanently

Tax Returns as Filed (Copies)      Permanently


Interested in viewing the full list? Click below to download complete guide on how long to keep your documents.

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Topics: Advisory, Audit & Assurance, Tax

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