What Type of Hard Copy Documents Should Your Small Business Keep?

I help a lot of small business owners when they are starting up their business.  Unfortunately, some have received advice from people who don’t give them sound information as to compliance requirements from local licensing to seller permits up to the structure of their entity and why they need or should pick one entity over another.  The compliance issues are a conversation all of their own.  This blog talks about the things that you should save in a paper form as well as a digital form.  The recent fires triggered this for me as I was contacted by a few of my clients who lost everything. The good news is, I ask my clients to make sure I have paper copies of these documents and I store them in their tax files.

This article is a reprint from Staples that emphasizes what I tell my clients.  Keeping these documents available in a safe place is important. As a small business owner, you have many documents you should keep on file, from taxes to financials to customer information. For most of these documents, using a digital system or a cloud storage system is enough to meet the needs and requirements of your business. However, easy access to a hardcopy document is
sometimes necessary.

For instance, in most states, it’s a legal requirement for a limited liability company (LLC) to keep a copy of its
operating agreement in its primary place of business. Hard copies of business licenses and permits should also
be kept in physical form because regulations often require it.

Here are some other key business documents that your business should have easy access to in a hard copy
format:
Annual reports
Fictional and assumed name (DBA) certificates
Contracts
Insurance documents
Employer identification numbers (EIN)
Promissory notes
Capital contributions and withdrawals
IRS and government correspondence
There are no laws dictating what tax documents should be in hard-copy form, according to IRS Publication 583.
But, the IRS says, you should keep your records until the period of limitations expires — this is the period of
time you have to amend a tax return. Some organizations, including insurance companies, could require you to
keep your records for a longer period of time than the IRS. You should check with your provider for specific
requirements.

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