Document management in the workplace is complicated enough but add in record retention requirements and you’ll find another mountain of confusion to overcome.
Most businesses use a combination of digital and physical documents to keep track of all their information. While many of these files are for the usual recordkeeping requirements, certain industries require a specific retention period. Law and healthcare are two fields that have strict regulations on how long a patient’s record should be stored and the conditions in which they should be kept.
Record Retention Defined
Record retention is the amount of time a document must be stored with the ability to access it when needed. This period is set by the appropriate governing bodies and range over several years.
The retention period isn’t a minimum amount of time that the document must be kept and keeping files for too long can also result in negligence charges.
Record Retention in Practice
Typical offices that maintain records with specific retention periods will use boxes to store their physical files. These boxes will be arranged by dates so that when the retention period is up, the box is sent to the shredder.
While this may be the standard way things were done in the past, technological improvements can streamline the way your documents are managed.
Period of Limitations
The IRS gives specific information regarding the length of time that certain documents should be kept. Their website states:
- Keep records for 3 years if situations (4), (5), and (6) below do not apply to you.
- Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return.
- Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
- Keep records for 6 years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.
- Keep records indefinitely if you do not file a return.
- Keep records indefinitely if you file a fraudulent return.
- Keep employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
Electronic Document Management System
An electronic Document Management System (DMS) is quickly becoming adopted by more businesses because of its advantages over old-fashioned paper systems.
Your files are scanned and stored electronically, making it easy to tag and keep track of which files need to be retained. All your document management is handled with a few clicks of the mouse as opposed to rummaging through old supply rooms and storage boxes.
The electronic DMS can also be stored on an internal server, meaning you don’t need an active internet connection to access your files. Whether you have important data that you don’t want connected to the outside world or you want to avoid missing out on work when the internet is down, the electronic DMS is a surefire way to stay productive and secure with your files.
Cloud Storage for Access On the Move
Documents that might be required with multiple people or out of the office can be accessed using a cloud storage service. All your files are encrypted and stored in an external server and you can view, edit, and send them in real time with your team.
Learn the Best Way to Manage Your Record Retention Policy
Businesses both large and small have been teaming up with Record Nations to find the right document management service for decades. Learn what system works best for you and get custom quotes on your project today.
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