You (along with most Americans) have probably filed your tax return by now. So this is a good time to consider which records and files you need to keep and which ones you can shred.

The IRS website offers official publications on record retention, for example Publication 552 for individuals and Publication 583 for businesses. Most states also have websites readily accessible that provide guidelines for its record retention policies.

Below is a general list of documents you need to keep and suggestions on how long you need to keep them. Always consult your accountant or tax preparer for information and guidelines specific to your operation.

  • Accounts Payable Records 7 years
  • Accounts Receivable Records 7 years
  • Articles of Incorporation/Organization, Bylaws & Minutes Book Permanently
  • Bank Statements. Bank Reconciliations & Deposit Slips 4 years
  • Bills of Lading & Freight Bills 4 years
  • Accounting Correspondence Until year-end
  • Credit & Collection Correspondence 7 years
  • General Correspondence 3 years
  • Legal & Important Matters Correspondence Permanently
  • Deeds, Mortgages & Bills of Sale Permanently
  • Employee Contracts,  Correspondence & Personnel Records 7 years after termination
  • Payroll Records, Summaries, Returns & Time Cards 7 years
  • Sales & Use Tax Returns Permanently
  • Tax Records 4 to 10 years
  • Tax Returns Permanently
  • Trademarks Registrations, Patents& Copyrights Permanently
  • Insurance Records (Accident Reports, Claims, Policies) 7 years

Source: Dairy Calf and Heifer Association