Record Keeping – How Long?

Posted on May 8, 2014 by Tanya

Last week Barbara Hemphill was in New Bern and shared her experiences as a professional organizer with a group gathered at the Courtyards at Berne Village. One question that we often hear and was asked during this seminar was: how long do I keep my records for tax purposes? This answer is really quite easy: as long as you feel you need to.

For a business, ask these 6 Records Management Questions:

  1. What do we need to keep?
  2. In what form?
  3. For how long?
  4. Who is responsible for filing?
  5. Who needs access to it?
  6. How can we find it?


For personal use, follow The Art of WastebasketryⓇ questions:

  1. Does it require action?
  2. Is it recent enough?
  3. Would it be difficult to obtain again?
  4. Are the tax or legal implications?
  5. Do you have a specific use for it?


Though these are not entirely clear cut, black and white answers, they should provide some guidance for you. With the availability of amazing technology, you no longer need to retain everything in paper format. Consider utilizing Shoeboxed for managing all your old records and files.

ShoeBoxed Logo

I mail to them each year’s taxes. They upload all the documents, including receipts, forms, invoices…, shred the originals, and send me an email that the documents are available in my Shoeboxed account. This allows me to clear out the paper clutter and not feel the need to retain a container of files I most likely will not ever need to access. It also allows me to feel confident that should I need those old tax returns, I can get to them quickly.

What works for you? How do you keep your documents? Are you willing to move from paper to digital storage?


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