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How Long Should A CPA Keep Client Files?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

As a CPA, you acquire a wealth of client records. From basic contact information to complex tax returns, it is easy to get buried under paperwork. You want to make sure that you comply with the law, but you also want to keep your business files organized. The following guidelines will help you implement and maintain a company-wide document retention and destruction schedule.

What Does The Law Say?

The rule of thumb for auditing files is that CPAs must keep them for a minimum of seven years. CPAs are not legally required to retain other files for as long. However, many firms opt to apply this same benchmark to all of their document retention policies across multiple platforms and service offerings.

According to the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, a CPA firm must keep paperwork supporting attest services for a minimum of five years from the date of the attest reports. At this point, the Texas Board has not implemented record retention guidelines for any other CPA services. If you need further guidelines, consult with the Internal Revenue Service.

All work papers that a CPA creates during the course of a relationship with a client are considered the property of the CPA. These papers may be a basis for or in support of audits, accounting, consulting, taxes, or other professional reporting. Examples include supporting details for tax returns or financial statements, journal entries, and cash receipts. If the client requests any of these papers, the CPA has a legal obligation to provide them promptly and in full. A firm may charge a reasonable fee for these documents.

How Should CPA Paperwork Be Disposed Of?

Once you have exceeded the retention period for a document, it is your responsibility to dispose of it properly. Most CPAs elect to outsource their document destruction services. Hiring an experienced destruction service guarantees that your documents are destroyed and recycled securely. Outsourcing document destruction services frees up valuable resources within your firm and ensure that the job gets done correctly every time.

UCI is a full-service copier and document shredding company in Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas. We work with CPAs from all around the greater Texas Panhandle region to make sure that their documents are destroyed safely and in a timely fashion. Contact us today to learn more.