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
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.