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How long do I need to keep my business records?

Business records if you’re self-employed

You must keep your records for at least 5 years after the 31 January submission deadline of the relevant tax year. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) may check your records to make sure you’re paying the right amount of tax.

If you sent your 2019 to 2020 tax return online by 31 January 2021, you must keep your records until at least the end of January 2026.

Very late returns

If you send your tax return more than 4 years after the deadline, you’ll need to keep your records for 15 months after you send your tax return.

If your records are lost, stolen or destroyed

If you cannot replace your records, you must do your best to provide figures. Tell HMRC when you file your tax return if you’re using:

  • estimated figures – your best guess when you cannot provide the actual figures
  • provisional figures – your temporary estimated figures while you wait for actual figures (you’ll also need to submit actual figures when available)

Employees and limited company directors

Income from employment

You should keep documents about your pay and tax, including:

  • your P45 – if you leave your job, this shows your pay and tax to the date you left
  • your P60 – if you’re in a job on 5 April, this shows your pay and tax for the tax year
  • form P11D – this shows your expenses and benefits, like a company car or health insurance
  • certificates for any Taxed Award Schemes
  • information about any redundancy or termination payment

Contact your employer if you do not have your P60, P45 or form P11D.

You should also keep details of any other income or benefits from your job, including:

  • any tips received (unless your employer pays them through the ‘tronc’ system, which means they will have deducted tax already)
  • benefits you get in connection with your job from someone other than your employer, like meal vouchers
  • any lump sum payments not included on your P60 or P45, like incentive payments or ‘golden hellos’ (payments you get to encourage you to take a new job)

Expense records

If you’ve had to pay for things like tools for worktravel costs or specialist clothing for work, you may be able to claim for these to reduce the tax you’ll have to pay. You need to keep a record of these so you can include them in your tax return.

Benefits records

You should keep any documents relating to:

  • social security benefits
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Statutory Maternity, Paternity or Adoption Pay
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance

You should keep:

  • copies of share option certificates and exercise notices
  • letters about any changes to your options
  • information about what you paid for your shares and the relevant dates
  • details of any benefits you’ve received as an employee shareholder
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