How long must you keep a red grouper fish? Ask your CPA

ManagementIt’s good advice for companies to keep tax records for 7 years, internal audits for 6 and bank deposit slips for 3.

So then, how long do you keep a red grouper fish? Hint: It’s species Epinephelus morio?

That may seem amusing, but it’s no joke to small-time commercial fisherman John L. Yates, who may one day set the record for the most arcane, real-life, record-keeping-and-retention violation.

Yates tossed a small crate of allegedly undersized red grouper overboard — and wound up in front of the United States Supreme Court for doing so!

You're Fired!
It’s been said that a bad day fishing beats a good day at work. It’s a safe bet Yates doesn’t feel that way – not after what happened to him.

You think you have it bad?

Here’s the perplexing (and short) story of federal record-keeping rules run amok.

Officials boarded Yates vessel in the Gulf of Mexico and claimed they spotted red grouper smaller than the minimum 20-inches. Yates was ordered immediately back to port.

The feds say Yates had someone toss the crate of overboard, and replace the fish with larger ones. Back in port, law enforcement picked up on the ruse and charged Yates with destruction of a “tangible corporate record.”

At trial he argued that the fish thrown overboard were not actually undersized because they were measured with their mouths closed, whichmakes them shorter.

He was convicted in federal court and lost again on appeal.

This week, the nation’s High Court took up his case, de-baiting whether an undersized red grouper is, in fact, a corporate record, and exactly how long one should be kept, if at all.

It’s a different kind of fish story, and you can read all about it here.

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