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Record Retention Guidelines

Local church treasurers and financial secretaries are often charged with keeping the records of the church. The question is often asked, “How long do we keep this stuff? The closet is already full!”

In an ideal world, the Finance Committee or Trustees would develop a written policy for record retention so that a new treasurer or financial secretary would not have to guess. It’s important to think where the records will be kept (preferably at the church), the security of the files, and the conditions (heat, dampness, etc.) of the storage area. Some small important items, like deeds, stock certificates, and bonds should be kept in a safe deposit box.

It is unlikely that a church will be audited by the IRS. More likely, a member will be audited and need help in substantiating deductions. Documents that have tax consequences should be kept seven years.

Keep One Year
Offering Envelopes

Keep Three Years
Business Correspondence
Employee Personnel Records (after termination)

Keep Seven Years
Bank Statements
Check Reconciliations
Worksheets and Related Documents for Tax Returns
W-2s and 1099s
Canceled checks
Invoices
Canceled Insurance Policies
Individual Giving Records
Housing Allowance Forms

Keep Permanently
Incorporation Papers
Minutes
Treasurer’s Reports
Tax Returns
Audit Reports
Annual Corporate Reports
Property Records
Contracts and Leases in Effect
Insurance Policies (excluding expired policies)
Insurance Letters/Correspondence
Employee Applications (for current employees)