How long should I keep my business records?

The following holding periods are suggestion only, federal, state and institution rules and regulations may apply.

ACCOUNTING RECORDS RETENTION PERIOD
Accounts payable 7 years
Accounts receivable 7 years
Audit Reports Permanent
Chart of accounts Permanent
Depreciation schedules Permanent
Expense records 7 years
Financial statements (annual) Permanent
Fixed asset purchases Permanent
General Ledger Permanent
Inventory records 7 years
Loan payment schedules 7 years
Purchase orders (1 copy) 7 years
Sales records 7 years
Tax returns Permanent
BANK RECORDS
Bank reconciliations 2 years
Bank statements 7 years
Canceled checks 7 years
Electronic payment records 7 years
CORPORATE RECORDS
Board Permanent
Business licenses Permanent
Contracts – major Permanent
Contracts – minor Life + 4 years
Insurance policies Life + 3 years
Leases/mortgages Permanent
Patents/trademarks Permanent
Shareholder records Permanent
Stock registers Permanent
Stock transactions Permanent
EMPLOYEE RECORDS
Benefit plans Permanent
Employee files (ex-employees) 7 years
Employment applications 3 years
Employment taxes 7 years
Payroll records 7 years
Pension/profit sharing plans Permanent
REAL PROPERTY RECORDS
Construction records Permanent
Leasehold improvements Permanent
Lease payment records Life + 4 years
Real estate purchases Permanent