BR13. How long does our charity need to hold on to its books and records?

BR13. How long does our charity need to hold on to its books and records?


Short answer

It depends on the type of record. Some may be kept as short as two or six years after the end of the calendar year in which they were produced. More important records must be retained for as long as two years after the charity is no longer registered.

Long answer

The Income Tax Act and Regulations spell out the length of time each record must be kept. The Minister responsible for this Act can also give written permission for the earlier disposal of records.

Here’s a checklist of retention periods for your charity’s books and records:

  • Copies of official donation receipts (other than for 10-year gifts) must be kept for a minimum of two years from the end of the calendar year in which the donations were made.

  • Records for 10-year gifts must be kept for as long as the charity is registered and for a minimum of two years after the date the registration of the charity is revoked.

  • Minutes of meetings of the directors/trustees/executives must be kept for as long as the charity is registered and for a minimum of two years after the date the registration of the charity is revoked.

  • Minutes of meetings of the members must be kept for as long as the charity is registered and for a minimum of two years after the date the registration of the charity is revoked.

  • Governing documents and bylaws relating to the charity must be held for as long as the charity is registered and for two years after the date the registration of the charity is revoked.

  • General ledgers or other books of final entry containing summaries of year-to-year transactions and the accounts necessary to verify the entries must be kept for six years from the end of the last tax year to which they relate, while the charity is registered, and for two years after the date the registration of the charity is revoked.

  • Financial statements, source documents and copies of annual information returns (T3010 forms) must be kept for six years from the end of the last tax year to which they relate or, if the charity is revoked, for two years after the date of revocation.
More…

The length of time varies by the type of record. A Canada Revenue Agency table outlining the length of retention for different types of records is available here.