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Retention Guide

How long you need to keep your tax records

As a general rule, you should keep your tax records for a minimum of six years. However, if you are:

  • An employer, you need to keep Pay As You Earn (PAYE) records for three years (in addition to your current year)
  • A contractor in the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), you need to keep your CIS records for three years (in addition to your current year)
  • Keeping records to complete a personal (non-business) tax return, you only need to keep them for 22 months from the end of the tax year to which they relate.

If you need to keep records for other reasons, for example, the Companies Act requires limited companies to keep specific records and you also use those records for tax purposes, you need to be aware that there may be different time limits for retaining them. Be careful not to destroy any records you also use for tax purposes too soon.

The records that you need to keep

The records you need to keep will depend on the size and complexity of your business and the different taxes that you have to pay, collect or charge. The following are the most commonly required records and documents.

Self-employed and partnerships

You should retain all records of income and expenses that relate to the business.

Sales and takings including cash receipts

Examples:

  • Till rolls
  • Sales invoices
  • Bank statements
  • Paying-in slips
  • Accounting records

Purchases and expenses, including cash purchases

Examples:

  • Receipts
  • Purchase invoices
  • Bank and credit card statements
  • Chequebook stubs
  • Motoring expenses and mileage records
  • Accounting records

Additional records if your business is VAT registered

  • VAT account
  • VAT sales and purchase invoices
  • Import and export documentation, for example, delivery notes

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)

If you are a contractor

Details of all payments made to all subcontractors for work done and materials subcontractors have purchased, for example, subcontractor invoices.

If you are a subcontractor

Details of all payment and deduction statements, for example, copies of invoices issued and payment statements received.

Limited companies

Accounting records (including details of assets, liabilities, income and expenditure). Business records (bank statements and paying-in slips, accounts books, purchases and sales information).

Additional records if your business is VAT registered

  • VAT account
  • VAT sales and purchase invoices
  • Import and export documentation, for example, delivery notes

Employer

All PAYE records, for example:

  • Payments made to employees
  • Deductions from your employee wages of Income Tax, National Insurance contributions (NICs) and Student Loan payments
  • Details of employee benefits and expenses
  • All records of statutory payments