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Ask the Accountant

How long do I need to keep business paperwork?

15/05/2020

Accountancy Expertise – here to answer your questions to help you run a successful business.

We'll be posting frequently asked questions and answers. Can’t find the answer to a question you're looking for? Get in touch at contact@carringtonaccountancy.com one of our expert accountants will be happy to help.

During the current COVID-19 crisis, many of our clients are working from home.

With no commute to the office and very little opportunity to get out of the house, they are using their time to have a thorough clear-out of old company and business paperwork.

We have received questions from clients about for how long they should keep items such as:

  • Bank and credit card statements
  • Invoices / receipts for goods and services relating to rental properties
  • Personal tax paperwork such as letters from HMRC, tax returns etc
  • Company paperwork relating to such things as accounts, dividends, corporation tax, VAT

So whats the answer? For everything other than fraud, HMRC can ask to look back over the last six years. We therefore advise clients to keep seven years of records – personal and company. That would include bank statements, credit card statements, sales invoices and records, receipts, expense claims – all of the above.

If HMRC believe there is a serious risk that tax evasion has been taking place, they can go back 20 years – but if this was the case, a lack of records would be the least of your problems!