Howard Zangwill, CPA, Managing Director of Audit and Accounting in the Oakland office.
Howard ZangwillCPA / Partnerview bio

Document Retention Guidelines

Document retention discussed by coworkers


Despite what Great Aunt Mitzi (known in the family as "Collect-zilla") tells you, "hanging on to everything just in case" isn't wise. Nor is this professed strategy a legitimate retention-plan solution for your workplace. You have a lot of electronic or paper records to preserve - and to destroy. You can tackle both important goals by implementing and following a retention policy. Need some guidance on where to begin? Let’s get down to the basics.

What is a Document and Destruction (DRD) Policy?

Your Document Retention and Destruction (DRD) Policy defines your entity’s legal and compliance requirements to ensure your records are:

  • Accessible with proper identification
  • Kept as long as legally and operationally necessary
  • Disposed of when they reach the end of their retention period by authorized individuals

Why is a DRD Policy Imperative?

Document retention Guidelines say these old records can go!Your entity is required to achieve legal and regulatory compliance, and a disciplined DRD Policy also helps you to:

  • Meet regulatory requirements
  • Mitigate exposures from data breaches
  • Reduce the records you store and save on space
  • Reduce costs associated with litigation
  • Improve the speed and accuracy of records retrieval
  • Facilitate access to valuable information


The suggested retention periods shown are not offered as final authority, but as guidelines and should be reviewed regularly for any legal or business changes.

Corporate Records

  • Board minutes — Permanent
  • Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, Resolutions, Trademarks, Patents — Permanent
  • Correspondence on legal, insurance, and important matters —  Permanent
  • Correspondence-general —  4 years

Finance and Administration Records

  • Accounts payable and receivable ledgers —  7 years
  • Bank statements, canceled checks, deposits and reconciliations —  7 years
  • Chart of accounts —  Permanent
  • Contracts and agreements —  7 after all obligations end
  • Correspondence and Internal Reports —  3 years
  • Financial statements (audited and year-end prepared in house) —  Permanent
  • General ledgers, depreciation schedules, inventory reports — Permanent
  • Invoices (from vendors or to customers) —  7 years
  • Payroll records  —  7 years
  • Retirement and pension records — Permanent
  • Federal and state income tax returns —  Permanent
  • IRS exemption determination and related correspondence —  Permanent

Document retention says keeps these!

Insurance Records

  • Accident reports — Permanent
  • Claims (after settlement) — 7 years
  • Group disability records — 7 years after end of benefits
  • Policies-claims-made/occurrence type — Permanent
  • Safety (OSHA) reports — 7 years

Real Estate

  • Building and site drawings — Permanent
  • Deeds — Permanent
  • Leases (expired) — Permanent
  • Mortgages and security agreements — 7 years after all obligations end

Human Resources

Employee personnel files — 7 years after termination
Employment applications — 3 years


Our experienced business consultants at RINA can help you improve your business and take a major step toward achieving business success. Through our business consulting and planning services we can also help you develop a document and destruction policy tailored to your entity, set goals for your business, and monitor your progress toward achieving them. 

Please visit our consulting services page for more information.

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