Spring Cleaning: How long do you need to keep business records in Alberta

Keeping reliable, accurate and complete records about your business is essential. Knowing when it is okay to destroy documents helps reduce storage clutter. Save space by regularly purging older records according to the rules. 

What are the record-keeping rules in Alberta?

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): For GST/HST, income taxes, source deductions (EI, CPP), business income and expenses, property and motor vehicle use, you must keep all records and supporting documents 6 years from the end of the last tax year they relate to.

Alberta Treasury Board & Finance: In general, all records and books, including all supporting documentation, must be kept for at least six years from the end of the taxation year to which they relate. Electronic records and the software required to read them must be kept in an electronically readable format for the same retention period of six years. If a return is filed late, the records and books must be kept for six years from the date the return is filed. Permanent records such as general ledgers, minutes of directors’ and shareholders’ meetings, share registers, and special contracts must be kept for a period of two years after a corporation is dissolved.

Requirements regarding the destruction of records and books are explained in Information Circular CT-13, Records and Books.

Workers Compensation Board (WCB): WCB does not have clear standards on record retention, but CFIB is pushing for specific timelines to be established.

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS): An injury or illness reported by a worker must be recorded as required by section 183 of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Code. The employer must keep first aid records for three years from the date the incident is recorded.

Alberta Employment Standards: The Code requires employers to keep accurate and current employment records for each of their employees. An employer must keep records for at least three years from the date each record is made. Reference: ES Code, Section 15.

Canada Labour Code: In workplaces under the jurisdiction of federal labour standards, payroll and employment records must be stored for at least 3 years.

Tips to improve your record retention

  • You must store records at your principal place of business.
  • Paper documents can often be converted to electronic images and stored on microfilm.
  • Backup copies of electronic files should be stored in another location free from hazards that may affect the storage device, such as magnetic fields, direct light and excessive moisture. Be sure your chosen storage format is usable by the government agencies.

Have more questions?

CFIB's Business Advisors are available to provide more information. Contact us at 1-833-568-2342 or cfib@cfib.ca