Recordkeeping for Small Businesses

how long to keep business records

They can keep your personal and professional purchases separated. The suggested retention periods shown above are not offered as a final authority, but as a guide to determine your needs. This is especially important if you plan on destroying any important legal, business, or financial paperwork. Any business deduction on your tax return can be questioned during an audit—even expenses under $75. Good business recordkeeping lets you prepare financial statements, helps you keep tabs on your expenses, and comes in handy if you ever get sued or audited.

  • Secure cloud storage services like Dropbox, Evernote, or Google Drive.
  • Always keep receipts, bank statements, invoices, payroll records, and any other documentary evidence that supports an item of income, deduction, or credit shown on your tax return.
  • Do not take deductions or claim income without having documentation to supply as proof.
  • If you truly don’t need a business record anymore, shred it.
  • First, go paperless so all your records are easily accessible.
  • Accurate records can help to track inventory levels, monitor financial transactions, and measure performance over time.

Under the generation-skipping transfer tax, an additional tax may be imposed on gifts and bequests that skip a generation. So, it’s not possible for individuals to automatically avoid adverse tax consequences simply by bypassing their children.


This information is used to calculate capital cost allowance. When buying something for the business, it is advisable to get vouchers and receipts. Without the proper documentation, you may face an increased tax liability and a negligence penalty equal to 20% of your underpayment.

  • Let’s say you filed your 2020 tax return two months ahead of the deadline, on February 10, 2021.
  • While you don’t have to go completely paperless, consider creating a digital version of your business records.
  • Choose a method of electronic storage–whether on your computer, in the cloud, or on a thumb drive or external hard drive—that offers the most safety and security against identity theft.
  • Remember, the burden of proof for everything on your tax return is on you.
  • Compensation may impact the order of which offers appear on page, but our editorial opinions and ratings are not influenced by compensation.

The Internal Revenue Service has established some basic record-keeping rules for tax documents. Outside the tax arena, there’s remarkably little guidance about how long you should keep business paperwork. Most lawyers, accountants and bookkeeping services recommend keeping original documents for at least seven years. As a rule of thumb, seven years is sufficient time for defending tax audits, lawsuits and potential claims. If you want good tax records, it is important to have good accounting software. You may want to outsource the preparation of your final tax return to a tax professional, such as an accountant.

How long to keep tax records and receipts for

A small business attorney can advise you on the full list of requirements that are necessary for your business. Personnel files with resumes, job applications, job descriptions, and performance reviews. For every unhired applicant, retain an application, resume, and a copy of the posted job description. First, the service pairs you with a CPA who is an expert in your state and industry and can answer the tough questions you have about your business. Second, while many others charge by the hour, or worse, by minute, 1-800Accountant sets you up with an affordable, flat-rate pricing plan so you always know what you’ll be paying.

The IRS has accepted electronic supporting documentation for several years. All requirements that apply to hard-copy books and records also apply to electronic storage systems that maintain tax books and records. The electronic storage system must index, store, preserve, retrieve, and reproduce the electronically stored books and records in a legible format. All electronic storage systems must provide a complete and accurate record of your data that is accessible to the IRS.

How to Pay Yourself in an LLC

Creating operating agreements allows LLC owners to have more control over their businesses. Form your business with LegalZoom to access LegalZoom Tax services. Log into your owner’s portal for more free articles and advice that can help you with every step of the business closure process. Records of hazard communications, safety data sheets, employee exposure records, and medical evaluations should be held for at least 30 years after closing. CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation. ✓ Our experts provide you with the guidance you need, including tips on reimbursement forms & best practices.

how long to keep business records

If the patient is a child, the medical practice has to keep the files until the patient turns 18. If your business is incorporated, you need to keep business finances and personal finances separate. Your business records need to be organized, clear and distinct to avoid audits. On the other hand, sole proprietors can mix both categories—and have to be extra careful to keep all relevant records. Finally, keep in mind your certified public accountant or tax preparer may give you different recommendations.

More Tax Topics

The income needs to be recorded whether it is received as cash, services or property. Let software lead in creating small business accounting records, like customer invoices and payroll tax forms. Assets usually have tax consequences upon sale, so the statute of limitations will apply to the future tax return that includes the asset sale.

Your bookkeeping team imports bank statements, categorizes transactions, and prepares financial statements every month. When the period of limitations on your tax return expires, you’re no longer required to keep the tax return or its supporting documentation. Whentax timecomes around, your accountant will ask for quite a how long to keep business records bit of documentation to support your tax filing. Keeping accurate digital or physical records can make tax filingmeasurably fasterand simpler. The IRS states you can use any record keeping system as long as it „clearly shows your income and expenses.“ Many people think this means keeping a shoebox full of paper receipts.

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