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.

Example – 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.

Business records if you’re a Limited companies

Limited companies are required to hold a wide range of company and accounting records. This includes details of directors, shareholders, company secretaries and the results of any shareholder votes and resolutions.

The company must also keep a register of People with Significant Control (PSC register). The PSC register is used to identify and record the people who exert significant control over UK companies often known as beneficial owners. Companies must keep a record even if there are no people with significant control.

There is also a requirement to keep full accounting records including:

  1. all money received and spent by the company, including grants and payments from coronavirus support schemes
  2. details of assets owned by the company
  3. debts the company owes or is owed
  4. stock the company owns at the end of the financial year
  5. the records you used to work out the stock figure
  6. all goods bought and sold
  7. who you bought and sold them to and from (unless you run a retail business)

The records must be held for 6 years from the end of the last company financial year they relate to, or longer if:

  1. they show a transaction that covers more than one of the company’s accounting periods
  2. the company has bought something that it expects to last more than 6 years, like equipment or machinery
  3. you sent your Company Tax Return late
  4. HMRC has started a compliance check into your Company Tax Return.

What HMRC can check

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will write or phone to say what they want to check. This could be:

  1. any taxes you pay
  2. accounts and tax calculations
  3. your Self Assessment tax return
  4. your Company Tax Return
  5. PAYE records and returns, if you employ people