Should you store or shred a business document? Companies and organizations have plenty of essential files to handle. You want to keep records that could find use in the future, but you also need as much storage space as possible. In this blog post, we'll give you a primer on which documents to store and which to destroy. One quick disclaimer before we get started — think of these tips as a starting point. A legal or financial expert can give you personalized information about ideal record-keeping practices.
Which Documents Can I Get Rid of Right Now?
Business owners who like to hold onto their documents may have more opportunities to toss papers than they think. Records without sensitive information can go into the trash or recycling bin. Consider if you need temporary documents and marketing materials. When you need to get rid of a file, ask yourself if you need it for legal, financial or operational reasons. You can throw out most unnecessary papers you feel comfortable with the public seeing.
In some cases, you can also discard papers that do have confidential information. We will go over basic retention guidelines in a bit that will explain when a document reaches the end of its usefulness. Remember to shred papers of any form that feature sensitive details, including notes and correspondence.
When to Shred Business Documents
Some files can go into the shredder after a set period. Your industry might have regulations that will help you determine when to shred a business document. Try these guidelines for shredding:
- Tax Documents: The IRS has different suggestions for tax-related record-keeping depending on your filing status. Some businesses can keep their tax documents for three years, while the IRS encourages others to hold onto them forever.
- Contracts: Hold onto contracts until four to six years after they expire. They become helpful when a legal situation arises.
- Insurance Files: An insurance record also proves handy as legal documentation. Keep insurance documents for six years after expiration or longer.
- HR Records: Employee information can come into use for years after they leave. Personnel files can stay around for at least seven years. Medical documents can become useful within up to 30 years after termination.
Consult a trusted financial or legal expert for more information about these timelines. When in doubt, keep a document for a minimum of three years.
Documents to Store, Not Shred
Experts recommend storing some records for an indefinite period, including:
- Audit reports
- Capital stock and bond records
- Patents and copyrights
- Cash books
- Pension records
- Licenses and permits
- Building fees, leases and plans
- Retirement and savings plans
- Legal correspondence
Let Us Help You Store Your Files
Business owners who take a conservative approach to record-keeping can also convert their documents to a digital format. When you let us scan and upload your records, you get easy access to as many documents as you want and increased space in your office. Learn more about our services today by requesting a quote online.