You’ve got a great business idea and you even have start-up funds!  But, do you know the essential documents you will need to retain?  Whether you anticipate profits or losses in the first year or two, it is more important to properly document everything that occurs. Sloppy documentation and reporting can result in IRS audits, unnecessary taxes, or even legal liability.

The following documents should be copiously maintained by all business, especially new ones.

  1. Corporate records. Articles of incorporation or organization, limited liability company operating agreements, bylaws, shareholder minutes, board minutes, state filings, stock ledgers, copies of stock certificates, annual reports, financial statements, tax returns, options and warrants, and copies of all securities law filings.
  2. Business licenses. Permits or registration forms required to operate the business under federal, state or local laws.
  3. Contracts. Equipment leases, joint venture agreements, real estate leases, and work-for-hire agreements. Keep all contracts even after they expire.
  4. Employee records. Completed employment applications, employee offer letters, employee policies, employment agreements, performance appraisals, employee attendance records, employee handbooks, employee W-2s, and any settlement agreements and separation agreements with terminated employees.
  5. Intellectual property records. Trademark filings (state and federal), copyright filings, patent filings and patents, licenses, and confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements.


Basic documentation can keep your company out of trouble as it grows and provide a strong basis for success.  If you would like more information about  your company’s document retention policies please contact our Business Law Group partner, David A. Closson at [email protected].

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