County tax offices have their own local records retention schedule that can get lost in the shuffle, the 2013 County Tax Administration Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. It has sections for property appraisal records, tax collection records, land records, motor vehicle records, and business and other tax records. Here is the retention for some common tax records.
Tax Collection Records
How long does a county tax department retain its incoming mail? The retention of mail is based upon the content inside the envelope. Tax payments received in the mail may be destroyed after 3 years, according to Standard 9, Item 15, Tax Receipts (Bills) File: Real or Personal Property.
Tax refunds are retained according to Standard 9, Item 10, Release and Refund Records: Real or Personal Property. You can destroy release and refund monthly reports 1 year from date of submission. All remaining records may be destroyed 3 years after the final settlement.
Records related to bankruptcies fall under Standard 9, Item 2, Bankruptcy Records, and may be destroyed 3 years after final settlement of the bankruptcy case.
What about records of completed foreclosures? There are two records series for foreclosure records. Standard 9, Item 6, In Rem Foreclosure Proceeding Records, may be destroyed 3 years after final settlement. You may wish to retain records of proceedings resulting in foreclosure and sale of property permanently, however, if that is your policy. Standard 6, Item 8, Mortgage Style Foreclosure Proceeding Records, may be destroyed 3 years after final settlement.
Garnishments and bank attachments are found in Standard 9, Item 1, Attachment and Garnishment Records, and may be destroyed 3 years after settlement.
Standard 9, Item 14, Tax Levy/Seizure Records, provides retention instructions for executions. Executions may be destroyed 3 years from levy and sale of personal property. However, if levy, seizure, and sale are not made, forms may be destroyed when their administrative value ends. Your office can determine an appropriate retention period that works for you and fill in the blank line on page 61 of your copy of the County Tax Administration schedule.
Many county tax agencies produce monthly reports. These records come under Standard 9, Item 13, Tax Collector Monthly Reports. Reports may be destroyed 1 year after submission to county commissioners and the county finance officer. Daily reports are working papers that you may destroy after the monthly report is complete.
Fiscal Year Reports and Settlements come under Standard 9, Item 12, Tax Collector Annual Settlements, and may be destroyed 3 years after submission to county commissioners and the county finance officer.
Records in Other Standards
A tax department’s daily deposit information falls under Standard 2, Item 21, Daily Detail Reports, and may be destroyed after 1 year.
Finally, the State Archives collects county tax scrolls. Please call us if you have tax scrolls dated 1900 and earlier, or tax scrolls and books for years ending in zero since 1900. Come to the State Archives Search Room if you would like to see your county’s tax scrolls from the previous centuries!