The document retention period is an aspect of records management. It represents the period of time a document should be kept or “retained”. At the termination of the retention period, the document is usually destroyed. The term is generally used by accountants and tax professionals whose occupation involves dealing with legal documents that only need to remain in existence for a certain amount of time. The retention period varies for different types of records. For example, business incorporation documents have a permanent retention period (meaning that they should be retained and never be destroyed), but receipts for tax-deductible purchases by an individual taxpayer usually have a three-year retention period (and can often be safely discarded after that point.) The length of the retention period is based on the likelihood that the document will be needed at some point in the future. Records that will serve no further purpose (as determined by the length of their retention period) are destroyed for space issues, usually by paper shredders. Retention requirements are also established for a variety of electronic records in industry-specific legislation (such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act) and regulatory bodies (such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) in the United States.
Document Retention Schedule
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