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Keeping business records

Different types of records are covered by different types of legislation as shown by the summary below:

Generally we would recommend that at least six full tax years of records are always held regardless of what they relate to.

HMRC recommends that PAYE records be kept for at least three years after the income tax year to which they relate.

Value added tax
By law, VAT records have to be kept for six years, unless HMRC allows a shorter period. Any request you make to keep records for a shorter period must be accompanied by a full explanation of why it is considered impractical to keep the records.

Taxes generally
From April 1996, all business records must be retained for a period of six full tax years.

Company records
Under corporation tax self assessment; accounting records must be preserved for six years from the end of the accounting period.

With regard to the statutory books, there are no specific requirements, but the Companies Act states that an entry relating to a former member of the company may be removed from the Register of Members 20 years from the day he or she ceased to be a member.

Also, the Register of Directors and Secretary must include details of past directorships held within the preceding five years.


The content and advice is for information only. Last updated 26.07.2009.

For up to date information and advice, based on your specific circumstances, please contact us.

We cannot be held responsible for actions taken with reference to the content contained on this website.


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