Importance of Keeping Records for Filing Taxes on the Ranch/Farm Back »

Written collaboratively by Shannon Sand and Jack Davis.


While most people must file taxes by April 15, 2017, farmers’ and ranchers’ taxes must be filed by March 3rd. Due to the filing deadline many producers are beginning the process of gathering their important paperwork.

Record Keeping System Considerations

In general, the law does not require any specific kinds of records (there are a few exceptions though). A producer can choose any kind of record keeping system they wish to use for their business (ex. Quicken, QuickBooks, Easy Farm, paper ledger, paper journal etc.). The IRS and the Farm Financial Standards Council encourages an accrual accounting method for record keeping, producers however can also use cash.

The record keeping system should include a summary of all business transactions. It is imperative producers also keep supporting documents such as purchases, sales, payroll, invoices and other transactions taking place in their business. The reason why it is so important to keep these documents is that they support the entries listed in journals, ledgers, and tax returns. It is important producers keep these records for three years from when the tax return was filed (however, some records may need to be kept longer).

The Bottom Line

There are added benefits to keeping accurate records such as allowing producers to monitor the progress of their business, and show whether it is improving, which items are profitable, and what may need to be changed. Records help producers keep track of deductible expenses, as there may be many throughout the year; trying to remember them all might be difficult. Good record keeping makes preparing tax returns easier, and supports items reported on tax returns.

For more information about keeping records for filing taxes see IRS Publication 225: Farmer’s Tax Guide.


Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be reliable and correct. However, no guarantee or warranty is provided for its accuracy or completeness. This information is provided exclusively for educational purposes and any action or inaction or decisions made as the result of reading this material is solely the responsibility of readers. The author(s) and South Dakota State University disclaim any responsibility for loss associated with the use of this information.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Sign Up For Email!