Businesses must maintain book and records so that an accounting of the business activities may be performed. Whether it be for an audited financial report, a compilation, a review, a tax return, or a specific management report, businesses must gather, summarize and analyze facts and figures to support reports, tax returns and conclusions. After the report is issued and/or the tax return is filed, the next important question is just how long must these business records be retained.
Before finalizing an entity’s record retention procedures, it is recommended that the IRS regulations, state and local government retention requirements and the AICPA’s Filing and Record Retention Procedures Guide be reviewed.
Please note: The suggested retention periods shown are not offered as final authority, but as guideposts against which to compare your needs. There may be several situations, for historical or reference purposes, for example, that necessitate longer periods than legally required.
In addition, many specific industries require retention periods that are different than rated here for specific terms. In most cases, the period of retention listed in this guide provides a more conservative retention period.
* Tax records are not required to be kept forever, but situations may arise in the future where the documents could come in handy.