How far back should I keep records?
An old client reached out to me about a sale I made over 6 years ago, but I didn't hold records that far back. What's an appropriate amount of time to keep records of your business and/or clients?
My database tracks client interactions back to 1994--almost the beginning of my business. (This has nothing to do with tax records.) Every once in a while somebody I haven't talked with for years will contact me. They are very impressed when I can quickly check my DB and say, "Oh yeah, we talked back in 2002 about your management issues. How has your business grown since then?"
Why would any business ever get rid of such customer records? I've never had anybody threaten to subpoena my old records so they could sue me.
It depends on which country you live in and their appropriate statutory laws. A good rule of thumb is 7 years, however this can vary according to the nature of records.
As a starting point, take a look at the following resources:
For the United States see (http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/How-long-should-I-keep-records).
For Australia see (https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Income-and-deductions/Records-you-need-to-keep/How-long-you-need-to-keep-your-records/).
For the United Kingdom/Europe (http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/records-keeping.htm#4).
You may wish to seek professional advice in regards to your particular situation - a local practitioner may be in a better position to advise you accordingly.
Hope this helps.
A lot of legal records and tax records must be kept for 7 years. Something like sales should be kept in a CRM for as long as possible. 6 years is a long time and the clients shouldn't expect that you still have that information. A few years would be a reasonable amount of time, but with today's technology you should keep it as long as possible.
Depends on your business, in regard to sales and warranties, and project time lines.
What I do is I keep the current and the previous 2 years information live. and the rest is archived. this includes emails.
With regard to CRM data, it's all kept live. a customer / contact is for life.
as you never know when your paths will cross again.
With regard to tax I meet the legal requirements + 2 years.
With projects and or contracts / agreements I keep them for life. as E- Copies.
Which is really no big deal. and very easy to keep on external hard drives / flash drives or even DVD.
The general rule of thumb is whatever the tax man wants you to do. So as everyone noted 7 years. Anthony provided the links to the legal response and Canada would be seven years for the tax man. As for sales I know major multinationals that have them going back longer much longer. What is it you sell and that is the life expectancy of the product, I would let that guide you but 7 in minimum
I keep my tax records for 7 years. My real estate business and clients records I kept forever!
Hi Jack. You must normally keep records for at least 6 years from the end of the last company financial year they relate to. You may need to keep records longer if: they show a transaction that covers more than one of the company's accounting periods.
I hope this helps.
In house I keep 3 years hardcopy and warehouse back to atleast 10 - Ofcourse I have floppy disk that date back to the mid 70s and 80s...
As long as I am in business, I keep everything! This has nothing to do with tax or legal requirements. This has to do with building, developing and maintaining strong relationships with clients.