By Aubrey Jayroe
As we get toward the end of the year, we look at retired files, old records, old tithing envelopes, and other documents the church must keep and try to determine what to discard and what to retain. Can you provide help as to maintaining records and destroying them based on the IRS requirements?
I will attempt to answer this in two parts: first this month, and complete it in next month’s article. In accordance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which makes it a crime to alter, cover up, falsify or destroy any document with the intent of impeding or obstructing any official proceeding, and in accordance with the need to maintain certain documents for verification and future usage, the General Accounting Office has provided a time frame for retaining or destroying records. For a church, we are providing a listing (in two monthly parts) of how long to retain records, etc.
Corporate Records such as Reports to the Secretary of State or Attorney General, Articles of Incorporation, Board Meeting and Committee Meeting minutes, Annual Church Business Meeting minutes, Board policies and/or resolutions, by-laws and addendums to the by-law, IRS application for non-profit status, non-profit determination letter, and construction documents and sales tax exemption letters/documents should be permanently retained.
Other corporate records such as expired contracts and fixed asset records (after disposal of the asset) should be maintained for seven years after the expiration or removal date; general correspondence and general email messages should be kept at least three years.
Contribution Records such as donor records and annual donor statements should be maintained for 7 years; tithing envelopes should be maintained a minimum of 3 years.
Bank Records such as check registers, bank deposit slips, bank statements and reconciliation papers should be kept 7 years while electronic fund transfer documents should be kept for 5 years.
Legal Records such as appraisals, copyright registrations, environment studies, real estate documents, stock and bond records, trademark records should be maintained permanently.