Even though we live in a paperless world, there’s still plenty of paper floating around the law office.
Original signed instruments, contracts, tax records, charters, licenses, certificates, and on and on. Law firms attract physical paper.
“From passwords and permits to tax documents, there are many business-related pieces of information that you should keep a physical, nondigital record of,” says business writer Jamie Johnson for the US Chamber of Commerce magazine CO.
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Seven Paper Records to Hold Onto
Below are recommendations from Jamie Johnson and the US Chamber of Commerce:
- Passwords. “Use a password manager like LastPass to keep your passwords straight. But it’s also a good idea to keep a physical copy of passwords you regularly use throughout the day. Just make sure you store this document in a safe place where other people can’t access it.”
- Contracts. “You probably use software like DocuSign to electronically sign and store contracts. But it’s also a good idea to keep a paper record of contracts, leases, and any other important agreements.”
- Licenses and permits. “If you receive any documents with a raised seal, you should store these somewhere safe.”
- Financial documents. “You may want to keep a hard copy of certain financial documents, like promissory notes, annual reports, and insurance documents. And you always want to have a copy of your financial projections on hand to reference when speaking to company investors and stakeholders. And if you run a brick-and-mortar business, you want to keep hard copies of receipts and invoices. That way, if customers request a chargeback, you’ll have the necessary paperwork on hand.”
- Tax records. “You also want to keep paper records of your business’s tax records. The IRS requires that you keep a copy of your filed tax returns and any supporting documents for at least three years. You may need to retain your records for six to seven years in certain situations. Maintaining your tax records for at least seven years ensures you can defend your business against potential audits or lawsuits.”
- Business documents. “If you run an S corp or C corp, you want to keep a record of your articles of incorporation on hand. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your bylaws and operating agreements. These documents outline how your company operates and its management structure, so it’s a good idea to maintain the physical records.”
- Your company goals and values. “Keep an ongoing list of your company’s short-term and long-term goals, and print them so you can regularly review them,” writes Johnson. “You might also consider keeping a physical copy of your company’s values and hanging them in a place where you’ll see them regularly. This can serve as a physical reminder of what you’re working towards every day.”
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