Keeping good records goes far beyond best business practices, dealers are actually obligated to keep some records by law.  Its important to know which records you need to keep and for how long to stay compliant.  Below is a simple list to help guide you.

Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) – 2 years. Examples of these records are Retail Installment Contracts, Sales, Books, Account, etc.  You will want to make sure that these records are kept for at least two years after final entry therein.  See (s.520.997(3), F.S.).

Credit applications and Adverse Action Reports – 25 months.  You will need original records of customer credit applications and any letters or notices of adverse action (the required notice that is sent for people who do not qualify for financing or an extension of credit).  To read the complete rule click here.

Department of Revenue (DOR) – 3+ years.  Taxes, taxes, and more taxes.  You will want to keep diligent records of anything tax related, both Federal and State tax including audits, exemption documents, ledgers, cash receipts, and any other documents that would verify the amounts listed on your tax returns.  Audits can go back as far as 3 years, however if you fail to file on time or have substantial errors on your returns the audit time can go back even further.

IRS 8300 Form – 5 years. In addition to the above tax documents, dealers must keep a copy of every 8300 Form they file and the required statement it sent to customers for a minimum of 5 years.  Click here to learn more.

Division of Motor Services – 5 years.  You can keep these DMS records electronically or in paper form, but the requirement is for a minimum of 5 years.  Click here for the Electronic Filing System (EFS) Record Retention.

Remember, much of the information that you are required to keep has your customer’s personal information on it, and with that comes it’s own set of rules and procedures.  Please see our article on how to Protect Customer Information to makes sure you and your business are in compliance!