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How Long to Keep Church Records

March 15, 2009

Q: We’re doing some housecleaning at church and we have a question about how long we should be keeping our legal and financial records. Is there a recommended time period that a church should hang onto its financial records?

A: This is something each organization needs to decide on its own, says Tim Brennan, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA’s) treasurer and vice president of finance. He recommends that congregations seek legal counsel locally before discarding records. He also suggests two websites that give some guidelines about records retention. One is here: Hood&Strong LLP.

The general recommendations from the above source are seven years for accident reports, contracts and leases, and cancelled checks, and four years for bank statements and purchase orders. Items to be kept permanently include audit reports, capital stock and bond records, cash books, and depreciation schedules. See the website for a much more detailed list. For another recommendation on records retention go to Nonprofit Law.

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Last updated on Thursday, December 19, 2013.

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