All tax-exempt organization, including churches and religious organization (regardless of whether tax-exempt status has been officially recognized by the IRS) are required to maintain books of accounting and other records necessary to justify their claim for exemption in the event of an audit and accurately file tax and information returns that may be required.
Every church should adopt and implement a records management and retention policy that reflect its unique circumstances.
Books of Accounting and Other Types of Records
There is no specific format for keeping records. However, the types of required records frequently include organizing document such as bylaws, minute books, property records, general ledgers, payroll records, and banking records. The extent of the records necessary generally varies according the type and size of the organization.
Length of Time to Retain Records
- Bank Statements, checks and reconciliations
- Acquisitions and disposition of property
- Contributions records
- Accounts Payable and Account Receivable records
- Payroll tax records and registers
- Articles of Incorporation
- Tax-Exempt Documents
- Annual Corporate reports
- Corporate Seals
- Minute Books
- Signed Minutes of Board and all committees
- Insurance Records and Payments (property and worker’s compensation)
- W-2s, W-3s, 1099s, and 1096s
- Financial Statements
- General ledger detail
Most documents are kept 7 years mostly because IRS audits can go back a maximum of 7 years. There is no accepted standard for record-keeping, it’s totally up to the organization. Right now, the best way is with an electronic backup in PDF format.