[Video] 2017 Records Retention: Requirements and Guidelines

Video Transcription

Why Track Retention?

Proper record keeping and retention are important for monitoring business progress, preparing financial statements, identifying income sources, and tracking your expenses.

There are a number of record management laws that set specific retention periods for different information including HIPAA, OSHA, and the ADA, and noncompliance with their regulations can have unintended implications.

Consequences for disposing or destroying too early include civil penalties and can impact employment-related litigation if you don’t have record-based evidence for your defense or are accused of wrongful destruction and spoliation of evidence.

What to Keep and For How Long

Financial Documents

Retention Years Record Type
  • Auditors’ reports
  • Financial statements (annual)
  • General ledger
  • Bank debt deduction
  • Worthless securities
  • Employee payroll records (W2, W-4, annual earnings records, etc.)
  • Subsidiary ledgers
  • Bank deposit slips, reconciliations, statements
  • Bills of lading
  • Checks
  • Contracts—purchase and sales
  • Credit memos
  • Depreciation records
  • Employee expense reports
  • Financial statements (interim)
  • Freight bills
  • Internal reports
  • Inventory lists
  • Invoices (register receipts, merchandise purchases)
  • Invoices (purchases of permanent assets)
  • Payroll journal
  • Time cards


  • Budgets

Insurance Documents

Retention Years Record Type
  • Claims—after settlement
  • Group disability records
  • Safety reports
  • Accident reports
  • Fire inspection records
  • Insurance policies
  • Policies (all types)—expired
  • Settled insurance claims

Business Records

Retention Years Record Type
  • Deeds
  • Patents
  • Production (correspondence)
  • Contracts
  • General correspondence
  • License, traffic and purchase (correspondence)
  • Mortgages and note agreements

Tax Records

Retention Years Record Type
  • Pension/profit-sharing information returns
  • Sale and use tax returns
  • Tax returns and cancelled checks
  • Payroll tax returns

Purchases and Sales

Retention Years

Record Type

  • Purchase orders
  • Requisitions
  • Sales contracts
  • Sales invoices

Traffic (Ship and Receive)

Retention Years Record Type
  • Pension/profit-sharing information returns
  • Sale and use tax returns
  • Tax returns and cancelled checks
  • Payroll tax returns

Personnel Records

Retention Years Record Type
  • Attendance records
  • Employee medical history
  • Medical benefits
  • Performance record—after termination
  • Personnel records—terminated
  • Contracts—expired
  • Daily time reports
  • Disability and sick benefit records
  • OSHA logs
  • Withholding tax statements
  • Dental benefit
  • COBRA records
  • Employment applications—not hired
  • Employee benefit plans


Where and How to Store Records

Offsite Document Storage Facilities

  • With storing and managing a business’ entire record archive, it’s often more cost, time and space-efficient to have them stored at an offsite storage facility
  • Documents are indexed and organized upon arrival for quick retrieval, which in turn makes it easier to track retention periods as well
  • One of the key advantages of offsite storage is that facilities also have shredders at their facilities, which removes the need to shred and destroy papers yourself once their retention times are up

Document Management Systems (DMS)

  • More businesses are shifting towards paperless document management, both for ease of use and greater accessibility to records
  • The electronic records are indexed, searchable, and can be configured to categorize and tag files as they’re entered, which can then help to keep track of their retention times
  • Most systems are also capable of both soft and hard file deletion, giving the ability for systems users to restore soft-deleted files while files with expired retention periods are hard deleted and erased completely

Tracking Retention: Hard-Copy & Electronic

Hard-Copy Records

  • When records are stored offsite, facilities can track your record retention times as well.
  • Just like the barcode labeling system used to keep your records organized and easy to quickly retrieve, stored boxes can be marked with retention periods.
  • You give pre-designated retention times for record boxes, and once your records are picked up, indexed, and stored, from there the storage provider handles the rest of the time tracking.

Electronic Records

  • Using more sophisticated DMS software, systems can also be configured to track retention.
  • Automated schedules are implemented to remove and delete files on a daily basis, and can be changed or removed as well.
  • When retention periods expire, files are hard deleted from the system and permanently erased.

How Are You Tracking Record Retention Times?

Find help setting up document storage and retention policies with solutions including offsite records storage and DMS software at Record Nations today.

To get your free, no-obligation quotes in just a few minutes, give us a call at (866) 385-3706 or fill out the form on the right.

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