Keeping business records if you're self-employed
What records to keep
You’ll need to keep records of:
all sales and income
all business expenses
VAT records if you’re registered for VAT
PAYE records if you employ people
records about your personal income
Why you keep records
You don’t need to send your records in when you submit your tax return but you need to keep them so you can:
work out your profit or loss for your tax return
show them to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if asked
You must make sure your records are accurate.
Types of proof include:
all receipts for goods and stock
bank statements, chequebook stubs
sales invoices, till rolls and bank slips
How long to keep your records
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 2013 to 2014 tax return online by 31 January 2015, you must keep your records until at least the end of January 2020.
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 can’t 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 can’t 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 avail