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How long do I need to keep my accounting records for?

How long do I need to keep my accounting records for?
Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Running a business incurs a lot of paperwork. In fact, for most new business owners, the amount of information and documentation they have to retain comes as an unpleasant surprise. Making Tax Digital will make it even more unpleasant, we regret to inform you.

But what records do you need to keep and how long do you need to keep them for? Enough for HMRC to see whether you’ve been keeping your financial records as detailed as they require them to be and to see whether you’ve been telling the truth about how much you and your company are taxed.

Getting it wrong with financial record keeping may incur penalties running into several thousands of pounds depending on HMRC’s view of the severity of what they deem to be the inadequacy of a company’s efforts.

No business wants to pay out more it doesn’t need to so, in this article, Panthera Accounting covers everything you need to know.

How should you store your records?

HMRC does not actually specify the form you should keep your financial records in so how do you is a matter of personal preference. Many like to keep paper records, others digital records, and some still prefer their accountant to keep all of their documentation.

What should I keep and how long for?


Sole traders and partners must keep records of:

  • Sales and income,
  • Expenses incurred,
  • VAT records,
  • PAYE records,
  • Information on personal income drawn from the business,
  • Information on amounts invested into a business, and,
  • Records of income you’re expecting but have not yet received (for example, 30-day invoices which have been issued but not yet paid).

You have to keep these records for a minimum of five years after self-assessment day (31st January). So, for the submissions you make on the next self-assessment day at the time of writing (31st January 2019), your records must be kept and be accessible from 31st January 2014.

Evidence you’ll need to keep will include items like your bank statements, invoices you’ve issued (and received), and any till rolls.

Limited companies

Limited company accounting requirements are more complicated and, as a result, you’ll be expected to keep more information for HMRC if they want to see it.

In addition to sales and income, monies received and spent, expenses incurred, VAT records, and PAYE records, you’ll need to record details of:

  • Company-owned assets (and any mortgages or loans secured on them),
  • Debts owed or owing (including indemnities and debentures),
  • Stock (including how you calculate the value),
  • Shareholder votes, and,
  • Shareholder transactions.

As well as bank statements and invoices you’ve issued (and received), you’ll need to keep copies of contracts you’ve signed up to, petty cash books, and receipts.

You must keep these records for six years from your last financial year end. That length of time may increase if there are transactions that spread over multiple financial years. VAT MOSS records must be kept for 10 years.

PAYE records

You must keep records of what you pay your staff for up to 3 years, including information on amounts paid to staff (including deductions) and to HMRC, tax code notices, taxable expenses, taxable benefits, information on the Payroll Giving Scheme, and leave & sickness absences.

Oxfordshire’s SME-focused accountancy firm and your VAT

If you are struggling with a growing accounts receivable balance, get in touch with our team. We can help you put a plan in place to reduce the number of late paying customers you have in order to improve your cashflow.

For more information, call us on 01235 768 561 or drop us an email to – we’ll be back in touch with you shortly.

What our clients say

For us, there is nothing better than a happy customer. Here are just a few that let us know how much we mean to them.

Pete Dungey

Simple, efficient and most importantly, hassle-free.

We found Panthera via our search for a Xero expert. We knew the software we wanted to use, and needed a forward-thinking accountancy partner who could get us up and running, and teach us the ropes moving forward. Tory and her team have always been on hand to answer our questions, and help us to grow as a business, particularly during periods of big change, such as becoming VAT registered. They are always on hand to alleviate any concerns and help to keep our records in order, which makes our year-end accounts an absolute breeze! Being based in Bristol, our relationship is entirely email based, alongside one consolidation meeting at year end - this keeps things simple, efficient and most importantly, hassle-free.

Pete Dungey Kaleido Grafik Limited
Anita van Eijndhoven

Talk Our Language

The support and service we receive from Panthera Accounting is very good. Everything from regular meetings, a prompt e mail response and the transition of our Xero software (which we find very pro active indeed) has and is all remarkably efficient. We find Panthera talk our language and make any process as painless and easy as possible.

Anita van Eijndhoven Quidne-IT
Ash & Tim Lane

Panthera brush aside the stereotype of the typical accountant

We got in touch with Panthera Accounting by way of a recommendation; we haven't looked anywhere else since. They are an extremely professional yet relaxed group of people. We were slightly daunted by the idea of accountants but Panthera brushed aside y the stereotypes. They are very understanding when answering any questions we may have. They are completely efficient, offer sound business advice, and are fantastically priced. We will continue to recommend them.

Ash & Tim Lane Starveacre Fencing
Jayne Johnson

An Asset to my Business!

The whole team at Panthera are great! Working with them has been a huge support to my growing business. They help me to understand the numbers I need to know. They give me technology solutions like Xero so that I can process things quickly and have access to my own figures. They are quick to reply, highly knowledgeable, nothing is too much trouble and as well as making sure that everything is compliant and on time, they are enthusiastic, professional and fun to work with.

Jayne Johnson Better People
John Baker

Absolute joy - they provide a first class service on every level

Working with Tory and the team at Panthera is an absolute joy - they provide a first class service on every level; from simple Xero issues through to more complicated tax enquiries, they’re always on-hand to help me get it right. I’m certainly not their biggest customer, but I’m always made to feel like their most important one.

John Baker BKR Solutions
John Castle

Professional and Friendly

I would like to say that Panthera Accounting have helped me with my business accounts for more than 4 years now. They have consistently offered an excellent competitively priced service that works both professionally and in such a friendly way that I would highly recommend them to everyone considering using their services.

John Castle Ilexanna Limited & Birch Castle Homes Limited
Jonathan Morrison

They are always there to answer queries and sort out issues

I had been with Mr Dunn for 20 years when upon his death Panthera took over the business. They now play a bigger part in the running of my business, they do all the stuff that has to be done but I don't like doing ie book keeping, VAT, wages, and returns. They are always there to answer queries and sort out issues and make sure all Tax deadlines are met. Their costs are fair, service is great and I have and would highly recommend them.

Jonathan Morrison Wallingford Builders
Pippa Scott

Professional, friendly and personal service.

Panthera Accounting have gone above and beyond the call of duty to guide and support our Company. They offer a professional, friendly and personal service that can take the stressful and sometimes frightening feelings out of running a business. They have guided us through the working of Xero and have offered “teaching sessions” on the day to day running of the accountancy package. Our only regret is that we didn’t join their team earlier.

Pippa Scott Scott's Commercial Services Limited
Sara Southey

Panthera puts the personal back in to accountancy!

Tory and her team have provided a friendly, approachable and helpful service from the start. They have delivered a quality service, above and beyond anything I could have expected. Panthera, with the help of the Xero package, have taken the stress, strain and confusion out of managing my company and personal accounts. I look forward to working with them for many years to come.

Sara Southey Bluestones Garden Design
Tracey Miller

Panthera are fantastic.

Panthera are fantastic. Always professional, going the extra mile for their clients and delivering superb service. I recommend them all the time to my clients.

Tracey Miller Bigger, Brighter, Bolder BBB

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