Drowning In Paper? BBB Guidelines On What Businesses Should Keep, What To Shred

BBB has guidelines on what documents businesses should keep and how long to keep them. Shred outdated but sensitive materials at Shred Day on April 26.
April 22, 2014

Shred Day business-oriented

St. Louis, Mo., April 23, 2014 - If your business is drowning in paper, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has some guidelines for what you should keep and how long to keep it. To protect your own and your customers’ identities, shred anything with private or financial information before you discard it.

“Companies need to keep good records to stay on top of their business and, in some cases, to protect themselves from litigation,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “A retention program that regularly reviews and destroys unneeded documents can reduce clutter and make it easier to manage day-to-day.”

Businesses may want to consult their accountant or a tax lawyer for their recommendations on which documents to shred and which to keep and for what time period. The attached guidelines were developed as a general guide and are not intended as an authoritative ruling on how long businesses should keep documents.

On Saturday, April 26, companies and individuals can shred up to three boxes of documents at no charge at the next BBB co-sponsored ‘Shred Day’ at Saint Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights, Mo., or Schnucks in Edwardsville, Ill., 2222 Troy Road. Shred-It, a Securit company, is donating the shredding service.

Shredder trucks will be on hand from 8 a.m. to noon. Information on identity theft protection also will be available.

For more information about the event, contact BBB at 314-645-3300 or www.bbb.org.

Record Retention Guidelines For Businesses

Permanent Records

Accountants’ audit reports
Annual Financial Statements
Bills of sale for important purchases
Canceled checks (for important purchases)
Capital stock and bond records, other records dealing with the firm’s capital structure
Cash books
Charts of accounts
Contracts and leases (major and/or current)
Correspondence (legal and important matters)
Credit history
Deeds and mortgages
Depreciation schedules
Employee personnel records (after termination)
Financial statements (year-end)
General and private ledgers
Insurance records
Minute books, bylaws and certificate of incorporation
Pension records
Property appraisals
Property records
Tax returns (along with related documents and worksheets)
Trademark registrations

Seven years

Accident records and claims
Accounts payable and receivable ledgers and schedules
Bank statements
Canceled checks (unimportant payments)
Contracts and leases (expired)
Expense analyses and distribution schedules
Expired option records
Insurance policies (expired)
Inventories (of products, materials and supplies)
Invoices (customer and vendor)
Labor records
Notes receivable ledgers and schedules
Payroll records and related documents (including pensioners’ payments)
Plant cost ledgers
Purchasing department copy of purchase orders
Royalty computations
Safety records
Sales records
Scrap and salvage records
Stock and bond certificates (canceled)
Subsidiary ledgers
Time books
Vouchers for payments to vendors, employee and related parties
Excise tax computations
Internal audit reports
Time cards and clock records

Three years

Bank deposit tickets
Bank reconciliations
Correspondence (general)
Employee savings bond registration records
Employment applications
Interim financial statements
Miscellaneous internal reports
Petty cash vouchers
Physical inventory tags
Purchase orders (not purchasing department copy)
Receiving sheets

One year

Stenographer’s notebooks
Stockroom withdrawal forms

Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle L. Corey, President and CEO, (314) 645-0606, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org; Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), communications@stlouisbbb.org

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. All BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.  Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.