Accounting Record Retention & Document Management

Records retention and document management are important aspects of various types of businesses.  What was once a mundane office routine involving filing cabinets and boxes full of paper has been transformed into a high tech system for managing business communication and information storage.  So, what exactly brought about this drastic change in how businesses are managing their records?  Increased risks of corporate liability, identity theft and legal issues have prompted governments to place regulations and guidelines on how long a business must retain important records.  Organizations are adopting these new solutions in order to be compliant, but also so that they may protect their business from missed opportunities, lost efficiency and legal ramifications that could potentially result from poor records management systems.

Accounting departments face most all of the challenges associated with records retention.  This is due to the significant amount of paperwork they deal with on a daily basis.   Everything from contracts, payroll, employee records, insurance policies, tax information, banking records and accounts payable/receivables are all considered to be under the accounting umbrella.  Most all of these records are required to be retained for anywhere from three years to permanently.  For some, there is a different retention period for records when stored in office versus in offsite storage.  Below is an abbreviated guide that outlines important accounting department records and the required time frame for retention.

3 Years

  • General correspondence (non-legal)
  • Sales records
  • Employment applications
  • Personnel records

7 Years

  • Accounts payable
  • Invoices
  • Payroll documentation
  • Inventory records

Permanently

  • Accounting audits
  • Tax information
  • Insurance records
  • Financial statements

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