How Long Should You Keep Your Business Records?

how long do businesses need to keep records

Keeping good records ensures that you have accurate financial statements and that you can assess how your business is doing at any time. Keeping track of your records means that you claim all expenses that you’re allowed — helping to reduce how much you have to pay at tax time. Follow IRS recommendations and hang on to employment tax records for four years after the date the tax is due or the date you paid the tax, whichever comes later. You need to take special care to store and destroy employee records correctly. These records often include pre-employment background checks, work history and reviews, wage and hourly statements, health and safety inspections, and the reasons for separation from employment.

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Additionally, having accurate and complete records can help the small business to keep track of its finances and make informed decisions about its future. Other records, such as payable and receivable ledgers, bank reconciliations, bank statements, and cash and how long do businesses need to keep records charge slips, and any other supporting documents should be retained for seven years. The IRS also says that it can come after your business for failing to report income for up to 6 years after filing and for up to 7 years if you took a deduction on a bad debt.

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Your insurance company or creditors may require that you hold onto things for a little longer. In general, receipts, canceled checks and bills will be enough to document your expenses. These documents should help you establish the date, place, amount and reason for the expense.

The IRS requires that you hang onto those records for years. This guide will walk through how long you need to keep certain records and what you need to keep, so you’ll be prepared if the IRS comes asking for your records. Generally, keep records relating to property until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property. You must keep these records to figure any depreciation, amortization, or depletion deduction and to figure the gain or loss when you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.

Why Is It Important To Keep These Records?

Whether you’re wondering how long to keep bank statements or how long to keep pay stubs, business record retention is critical for your financial record keeping. Read on to learn about retention periods for your accounting documents. Purchases, sales, payroll, and other transactions you have in your business will generate supporting documents. Supporting documents include sales slips, paid bills, invoices, receipts, deposit slips, and canceled checks. These documents contain the information you need to record in your books. It is important to keep these documents because they support the entries in your books and on your tax return.

The IRS, however, requires that you maintain key records for specific lengths of time. It’s crucial to hang onto records that reflect your income and deductions in case your business is audited, and also to protect yourself and your business against any legal or insurance issues. To be on the safe side, keep your business tax returns—plus the receipts and other documents that support your numbers—for seven years. This will cover just about any scenario that could come up.

Be Tax Ready All Year Long

Use this quick and easy guide to help you decide what to save and what to toss. Designed for business owners, CO— is a site that connects like minds and delivers actionable insights for next-level growth. Sign up for Patriot Software to get a free trial of our payroll software and HR software add-on today. Keep these records for four years after filing the fourth quarter of the year.

  • If you’re deducting meals and entertainment, it’s even more complicated.
  • As you can see, there are many factors to consider when determining how long to keep your business tax records.
  • Be sure to check the terms of each account to see how long they keep historical records.
  • Sign up for Patriot Software to get a free trial of our payroll software and HR software add-on today.
  • If you decide not to file a return, you must keep your records indefinitely.

In many cases, you may need to keep a hiring file with details of the job listing and applicant information. Where your company is located and its size will determine exactly what you’ll need to keep and for how long. For example, if your company is subject to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), you’ll need to keep information on applicants for one year. As tempting as it may be to toss everything once the IRS says you don’t need to keep it, you might want to think twice.

Human resources records

Keep in mind that what follows is just general guidance, and not necessarily the final word. Your accountant or tax advisor may have different recommendations for your situation. It’s still a good idea to hold onto backup documentation if you can because if you do get audited, the IRS will probably want more info.

how long do businesses need to keep records

Tax time might be the most important time for business recordkeeping, but taxes aren’t the only reason you should be keeping all of those documents. Any business deduction on your tax return can be questioned during an audit—even expenses under $75. Bank statements, credit card statements, canceled checks, paid invoices and other financial information quickly pile up.