Record Retention Guidelines

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

The specific holding periods for any record retention policy should be given careful scrutiny by management and legal advisors, especially in light of any pending investigations, regulated industry requirements or contract covenants. In addition to these general guidelines, each business should consider any industry standards that may affect the holding period of records due to unusual legal circumstances.


Accounts receivable reports 3 years
Accounts payable reports 3 years
Auditors’ reports/work papers Permanent
Bank deposit slips 3 years
Bank statements, reconciliations 7 years
Budgets 3 years
Cancelled checks 7 years
Cash disbursements journal Permanent
Cash receipts journal Permanent
Depreciation records Permanent
Employee expense reports 3 years
Volunteer expense reports 3 years
Independent contractor expense reports 3 years
Employee payroll records (W-2, W-4, annual earnings records, etc.) 4 years*
Financial statements (annual) Permanent
Financial statements (interim/internal) Permanent
General journal or ledger Permanent
Inventory lists Permanent
Invoices 3 years
Payroll journal 4 years
Petty cash vouchers 3 years


Corporate Records

Annual Report (State of Illinois) Permanent
Constitution Permanent
Bylaws Permanent
IRS Determination Letter Permanent
Contracts, sales (UCC) 4 years
Contracts, generally 10 years*
Contract, government 4 years*
Minutes (board executive session) Permanent
Minutes (board and committees with board authority) Permanent
Minutes (committees without board authority) 5 years
Qualifications to do business Permanent



Accident reports 6 years
Insurance claims 6 years*
Insurance policies Permanent


Miscellaneous Legal

Claims and litigation files 10 years*
Copyright, patent and trademark registrations Permanent



Applications 1 year
Employee earnings/payroll records 6 years*
Employee files 6 years*
Employee pension records, including service, eligibility, personal Information, pensions paid 6 years*
Employment contracts 10 years
Garnishments 10 years
Government reports 6 years
Pension, profit-sharing plans Permanent
Time cards/sheets 4 years



Income tax returns and cancelled checks (federal, state, local) Permanent
Payroll tax returns 4 years
Sales and use tax returns 10 years



Supporting correspondence and notes re: patents, copyrights, licenses, agreements, bills of sale, permits, liabilities, etc. Greater of “life of principal document which it supports” or 3 years

*An asterisk (*) following a number signifies that the retention period begins after final payment, settlement, expiration, termination, sale, etc.

Recent Posts