Records keeping

As an efiler, how many years of record should I save?

I think that depends on the data in the return.

For very simple returns, I believe it is safe to shred the files after 7 years (current year plus 6 yrs). However, if the return was adjusted, those years start all over again from the date of the adjustment.

For return involving business income, I have read that ledgers cannot be disposed of without prior CRA approval.

As well there are situations where data needs to be kept long term. Examples would include submitted Election forms, Investment data to properly calculate the client’s ACB (especially when shares change hands and have new values), etc.

My rule is to review each file individually to determine if it is safe to shred that file or keep some or all of that files data.

Writing a proposal to CRA for approval to shred specific files is always a good idea, as they will know if the client is deceased, business folded, etc.

Hope this helps.

Thank you very much for explaining.

Most of my files (since 2009) are electronic but I have started shredding files that have not been clients for at least 7 years. I have occasionally needed to reference files that are quite old (for real estate purchases/share purchase histories mostly) and still on paper for some of my long term clients so I tend to err on the side of caution when deciding to shred files.

When the bird flu hit the Fraser Valley the firm I was at learned a valuable lesson - save everything! We had to go back more than 10 years to complete the Agristability forms for the farmers that lost their flocks. We had everything in storage and were able to give all the required information with very little hassle.

Digital storage is cheap these days - scan everything older than 7 years and shred them. Then make it an annual job going forward. One year scan, shred all the paper. Done.