Maintain corporate records

It's important to maintain your financial, tax and HR records.
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Maintain corporate records FAQs

One of the tedious tasks of running your own company is record keeping. Some records you need to hold on to for many years in case of an IRS audit or other investigation into your business.

What are corporate records?

Corporate records are the documents that show to the IRS and local governing agencies that your business is following required laws. Your corporate records may include,

  • Articles of incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • Notes from annual shareholder and director meetings
  • A list of stock owners, stock dividend information and stock transactions
  • Records of all types of resolutions (hiring, loans, employee benefits)
  • Transactions including records of property sales and purchases
  • Information about large layoffs, market expansions and new locations
  • Tax records
  • Documents required by your state and local government

Basically, you should save all business documents in case you need to prove your business is following the laws or if your business is audited by the IRS. Documents can be stored as paper copies, on a hard drive or in the cloud. You should always backup your files in a secure location.

How long do I need to keep my business tax records?

You may hear different answers to this question. To err on the side of caution, you should keep your business tax records for seven years. It is recommended that you keep a copy of your business returns longer. Some may say you can destroy the records sooner, but seven years will, in most cases, protect you should an issue arise.

What documents should my business shred?

Shredding documents can help you protect your client's information as well as your proprietary business information. For the most part, you should shred any document that you plan on throwing away. You should take extra effort to shred documents that may contain information such as Social Security numbers, credit card information, employee's private health information, payroll information, marketing strategies, new product information, protected vendor or client information, and more. You should also make sure to destroy or wipe electronic copies of the documents as well. Sensitive files saved on portable devices such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets should be password protected and encrypted.

How long do I need to save employment records?

Like tax records, it's best to store employment records longer than you may want to in order to protect yourself. Some say as long as five years after an employee is terminated. Federal, state and local requirements may vary. But five years should cover most requirements, If your business operates in numerous regions, you may benefit from hiring an employment lawyer that know the local laws well.

Are my business tax records publicly available?

Many of your business documents are available to the public. With a minimal amount of effort, curious searchers could find your business license information, creditor information, lien information and more. Can people see an actual copy of your return? No, corporate tax returns are not public records. You can find more information if the company is publicly traded.