I Scream, You Scream…We All Scream When There Is Too Much Paper!

July 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

I know that’s not exactly the way the rhyme goes, but at times, the voluminous amount of paperwork we all have to sift through becomes a daunting, even “scream-worthy” task. I think we all have had the momentary panic attack when we need that certain receipt or paper and cannot find it.  Before tossing everything that seems “old” to you, consider this information and suggestion on a document retention policy.  I have a client that challenged herself to a minimalist month.  She shredded one piece of paper for each day of the month, so one document on the 1st, 12 documents on the 12th, you get the picture.  Along with clearing her desk and organizing her records, she created a business document retention policy.

Businessman Carrying Pile of FilesEach year, businesses create hundreds if not thousands of records.  An important aspect of keeping organized business records is having in place and following a document retention policy.  Over-saving documents can be a storage and cost burden; likewise, not saving important documents can create risk if record substantiation is ever needed.

Compliance with the Internal Revenue Service guidelines is a good place to start in developing a policy for your business, since “all taxpayers are required to keep books and records sufficient to establish the amount of gross income, deductions, credits, or other matters required to be shown by the taxpayer in a tax return.” (Regs. Section 1.6001-1) At McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, we have the suggested guidelines below to help build these policies for your own business or home records.  These guidelines apply to both hard-copy and electronic records.

Permanently or for seven years following entity liquidation:

  • Copies of tax returns as filed
  • Tax and legal correspondence
  • Financial statement audit reports
  • General ledger and journals
  • Financial statements
  • Real estate records
  • Corporate stock records and minutes
  • Partnership agreement and amendments
  • Operating agreement and amendments

10 Years after expiration of agreement:

  • Contracts
  • Leases

Seven years:

  • Bank statements
  • Deposit slips
  • Sales records and journals
  • Revenue records
  • Employee expenses reports and records relating to travel and entertainment expenses

Four years:

  • Cancelled checks
  • Paid vendor invoices
  • Employee payroll expense records
  • Employment tax records
  • Expense records


  • Capital asset records – tax life of the asset plus three years
  • Personnel and other employment records – seven years following termination

As you determine necessary retention periods for your business records and create your policy, we recommend you seek additional legal counsel or a regulatory compliance specialist in your industry if it applies.

So, take the minimalist challenge, too!  Or, now that you know the rules, sort those papers and come to our Shred Event at our West Des Moines location on August 5th from 4:00 – 7:00PM to shred for free!  “The Shredders” will be onsite, and the firm will be serving free ice cream while you wait.

Trisha Gross, CPA
Trisha Gross

Business Networking…It’s All About Building Relationships!

July 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

When I decided to become an accountant I did not anticipate business networking and development to be a part of my every day job duties. Leave that to the outgoing, energetic, creative marketing team, right? Little did I know what great opportunities there are in the business networking world to not only grow business relationships, but also to make friendships.

business teamI consider myself lucky that MHC&S encourages networking and development on a daily basis. We attend and sponsor many events throughout the year giving us as employees the opportunity to attend those events with a co-worker to ease the nerves some might feel about meeting new people. One organization I have become involved in over the last few years is the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber provides plenty of opportunities for meeting new people in many different arenas. A little something for everyone! Whether you prefer breakfast or lunch, beer or coffee, there is always an event to attend to get to know others in the community.

One of the very first WDM Chamber events I went to was the kick-off party for New View. New View is a program of the Chamber that encourages young professionals to get more involved. A co-worker had been involved in getting New View off the ground and had invited me to join him. There was a free trip to Vegas being given away, so I figured why not?

Everyone at the event was very welcoming and was a mix of some who had been networking for years and some who were at their first event just like me. New View events continue to be a good mix of both and provide a comfortable atmosphere for those new to the Chamber and networking, while also providing plenty of opportunities for growing your business, whatever it may be. After attending the first event, I was invited to sit on the New View Advisory Committee and jumped on board.

As this year ‘s New View Advisory Committee Chair, I have made so many more connections by being involved rather than just attending an event now and then. I have developed some great relationships that have provided not only great referral sources, but also friendships that I know will extend beyond my time as New View Advisory Committee Chair. I am grateful that MHC&S has provided me with the opportunity to get out from behind my computer and get involved in the community.

Kristin George, CPA 
Kristin George

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