Records Retention Schedule

Do you know how long you should keep contribution records? How about past employee records?

Church Accounting Package

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  • Fund Accounting Examples and Explanations
  • Setting up a fund accounting system
  • Donation management
  • Minister compensation and taxes
  • Internal controls and staff reimbursements
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The following is partial lists of recommended records retention schedules.

Many churches and nonprofits organizations will keep many of these documents and records electronically.

The following time periods applies to both physical and electronic documents.

Permanent Records Retention Schedule:

records retention schedules

These are records vital to your organization. Copies or originals of some of these records (articles of incorporation, bylaws, etc.) should be stored offsite of your church or nonprofit organization perhaps in a secure location such as a local bank.

  • Corporate records and documents such as articles of incorporation, bylaws, annual corporate reports, corporate seals, minute books, signed minutes of the Board and all committees
  • Licenses and permits
  • Property records and documents such as property deeds, assessments, and rights of way
  • Property Insurance policies
  • Audit reports
  • Financial Statements
  • General Ledgers
  • Contribution records
  • Documents evidencing terms, conditions, or restrictions on gifts
  • Tax-exemption documents and related correspondence
  • IRS rulings
  • Tax returns-income, franchise, property
  • Annual Information returns-federal and state
  • IRS or other government audit records

Notice: Retention period for sales taxes and property taxes are determined by state law. A local CPA or attorney should be consulted.

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Receipts and supporting documents are very important to keep on file. See this article on:

8 Tips to Keep Track of Receipts

Temporary Records Retention Schedule:

The retention period for the following documents and records is 7 years unless otherwise stated.

  • Accounts payable and accounts receivable ledgers and schedules
  • Bank statements and canceled checks
  • Notes receivable ledgers and schedules
  • Employee expense reports
  • Investment records (7 years after sale of investment)
  • Annual audit records, including workpapers and other documents that related to the audit (7 years after the completion of the audit)
  • Contracts and related correspondence (7 years after expiration or termination; however, some states may require longer retention period for specific types of contracts: Consult a local attorney.)
  • Excise tax records
  • Tax bills, receipts, statements
  • Tax workpaper packages-originals
  • Sales/use tax records
  • Payroll tax records
  • Payroll registers
  • Personnel records such as commissions, bonuses, incentives, and awards
  • Payroll documents such as: payroll deductions; W-2 and W-4; and garnishments, assignments, attachments. (Termination plus 7 years)
  • Time cards/sheets – (2 years)
  • Employee personnel records-(6 years after separation)

Notice: Retention period for employment and employment tax-related documents may vary for different states. A local CPA or attorney should be consulted.

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