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Work Papers & Client Records

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How long does a CPA firm have to save old client records and work papers before recycling them?
The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy's Rules state that work papers supporting an attest service belong to the accountancy firm that prepared them, and must be maintained by that firm for at least five years from the date of the attest report. See Board Rule 501.76(e). The Board has not established record retention guidelines for other services. You may also wish to consult with the Internal Revenue Service or other taxing authorities in order to determine their record retention regulations.
Do CPA firms have to give their clients records and work papers on request?
A CPA must (promptly but not to exceed 10 business days) provide a client with the original documents that the client provided the CPA so that the CPA could perform a professional service. Examples of such documents include bank statements and W-2 forms. The CPA cannot charge a fee to return these documents and the documents must be returned to the client upon the client's request, even if the client has not paid the CPA for services rendered. The CPA can keep copies of those documents. See Board Rule 501.76(a)

If the CPA previously issued a document to a client, such as a client's tax return or an attest report, the CPA must provide additional copies to the client upon the client's request. The CPA can charge a reasonable fee for providing those copies. See Board Rule 501.76(a)(1-2)

Work papers developed by a CPA during the course of a professional engagement as a basis for, and in support of, an accounting, audit, consulting, tax, or other professional report prepared by the CPA for a client, shall be and remain the property of the CPA who developed the work papers. See Board Rule 501.76(b). Work papers that constitute client records must be provided to the client upon the client's request. Examples of work papers that constitute client records include documents in lieu of books of original entry such as listings and distributions of cash receipts or cash disbursements and consolidating or combining journal entries and documents and supporting detail in arriving at final figures incorporated in an end product such as financial statements or tax returns. A CPA can charge a reasonable fee for providing these documents to a client. See Board Rule 501.76(a)(2).

Information contained in these pages is taken from the FAQ section of the TSBPA web site.

It is advisory in nature and not binding on the TSBPA.
You may request a formal opinion from the TSBPA if needed.

Information copied from the TSBPA web site -