Skip to main content
Keeping Records for Tax Purposes

Definitive Guide to Keeping Records for Tax Purposes in the UK


Understanding the types of records required for tax purposes is crucial to ensuring a smooth process. The records you need will vary based on the complexity of your claims. Effective tax record-keeping is a cornerstone of financial management, ensuring a seamless process when making claims. The records are necessary for your tax affairs hinge on the volume and intricacy of your claims, broadly falling into two categories.

  • Documents Received or Signed

Maintaining records involves documents either signed by you or provided by others. These may include:

  • Court orders or legally binding maintenance agreements, particularly relevant for those born before 6 April 1935.
  • Forms EIS3 or EIS5, applicable when subscribing to the Enterprise Investment Scheme.
  • Gift Aid payments.
  • Personal pension plan certificates.

Additionally, it’s prudent to retain duplicates of essential documents such as:

  • Birth certificates, especially when age is a determining factor.
  • Marriage certificates, crucial for claiming Married Couple‚Äôs Allowance (only for individuals born before 6 April 1935).
  • Certificates confirming the death of your partner or spouse if applying for Bereavement Allowance.
  • Notification of your status as a registered blind person.
  • Personal Financial Records

Effective tax claims necessitate well-maintained personal financial records, providing substantiation for amounts expended. Notable examples of records supporting such claims encompass:

  • Bank statements and cheque stubs.
  • Money order counterfoils.
  • Certificates detailing loan interest paid.
  • Receipts or other documentation indicating dates and amounts of payments made.

Furthermore, it is imperative to retain records supporting claims aimed at mitigating liability based on non-residence or non-domicile. For guidance on residence, domicile, and the remittance basis, refer to

The types of records beneficial for such claims include:

  • Records of living overseas and travelling to and from the UK, especially if claiming non-residence or non-ordinary residence.
  • Employment documents like contracts or letters of assignment for those asserting non-domicile status, supported by evidence demonstrating the permanent home country.

Regarding income, benefits in kind, and expense payments from employment, maintain records such as:

  • P60 certificates received from your employer after 5 April, detailing pay and tax deductions.
  • Any P45 Part 1A received upon leaving a job.
  • P46(Pen) provided upon retirement and transition to a pension from a former employer.
  • Annual pension statements from your payer.
  • Payslips or pay statements, including certificates or proof of foreign tax payments on employment income.
  • P11D or P9D forms, or equivalent information from all employers throughout the year, indicating benefits in kind and expenses payments.
  • Information on share options, exercised or awarded, and any share participation arrangements.
  • Detailed notes on tips, gratuities, and other taxable receipts or benefits not included in wages, recorded regularly for accuracy.
  • Certificates related to Taxed Award Schemes participation.
  • Information from entities other than your employer providing benefits in kind related to employment.
  • Details about any redundancy or termination payments.

Additionally, it is advisable to retain forms P2 and P2X (PAYE Coding Notices) to facilitate tracking of earlier tax underpayments collected through PAYE.

Claiming Expenses in Employment or Reducing Benefits in Kind

When asserting expenses against your earnings or seeking reductions in benefits calculated by your employer, maintaining meticulous records is crucial for substantiating your claims. These records should encompass comprehensive details, including:

  • Mileage Details: Keep a detailed log that includes dates, trip information, and the business miles travelled. This is particularly important for claiming mileage-related expenses.
  • Additional Costs: Record any supplementary costs incurred, such as parking fees or toll charges. These details further support the validity of your claim.
  • Foreign Travel Itineraries: If your expenses involve foreign travel, maintaining detailed itineraries is essential. This provides a clear overview of your travel activities and their relevance to your claim.
  • Payment Records: Retain all relevant proof of payment records, including receipts, vouchers, credit card statements, and other documentation. Bank statements and cheque stubs can serve as valuable evidence of your expenditure.
  • Purchase Records and Leasing Agreements: If your claim involves equipment, such as a computer, maintain records of purchase and leasing agreements. These documents substantiate your claims against your employment income, offering a transparent overview of the expenses incurred.

Managing Unavailable or Unretainable Expense Evidence

In situations where obtaining evidence, particularly receipts for small cash expenses, proves challenging, a proactive approach becomes imperative. If you find yourself without proof, follow these guidelines:

  • Create a Brief Note: Promptly generate a concise note detailing the amount spent, the date of expenditure, and the purpose. This compensates for the absence of a formal receipt, offering a record of the transaction.
  • Submission of Receipts: Should you eventually acquire a receipt or alternative evidence; your employer might require it for expense reimbursement or to calculate associated benefits. However, retaining the broader details of these expenses is equally essential. This ensures you can complete your expense claim and furnish supporting information if your tax return undergoes scrutiny.
  • No Need for Photocopies: While keeping photocopies of bills is not mandatory, maintaining your comprehensive records is crucial. Any investigations into your tax return can typically be addressed by presenting your original records, alleviating the need for unnecessary photocopies.

This approach ensures your compliance with necessary documentation requirements, providing a robust foundation for your claims.

Utilizing Your Vehicle for Business Travel

When opting for your own vehicle, be it a car, van, motorcycle, or cycle, for business-related journeys, it’s essential to understand the implications and the necessary record-keeping:

  • Business Mileage Expenses: You’re eligible to receive expenses for business mileage at specified rates without incurring any tax liability.
  • Excess Payments and Taxation: If you receive payments surpassing the specified rates, the excess becomes subject to taxation. Your employer is responsible for notifying your HMRC office about such instances.
  • Claiming Relief – Mileage Allowance Relief: In scenarios where you receive payments below the specified rates or nothing at all, you can claim relief up to the specified rates. This relief, known as Mileage Allowance Relief, serves to offset any financial disparity. Visit for the latest Mileage Allowance Relief rates.
  • Maintaining Business Mileage Records: It’s crucial to keep meticulous records of the business miles covered and the corresponding expenses you’ve been paid. This documentation serves as essential evidence for accurate claims.
  • Recording Other Motoring Expenses: In addition to mileage expenses, maintain records of any other motoring expenses incurred, such as parking fees or tolls. These records are indispensable when claiming deductions for these specific expenses.

With these guidelines, you ensure compliance with tax regulations related to your business travel.

Utilizing Your Home for Business Purposes

If you’ve designated a section of your home for work-related activities, it’s imperative to maintain thorough records to substantiate the allocation of heating and lighting costs between employment and private use. The following guidelines are crucial in this context:

  • Obligation to Work from Home: Simply choosing to work from home is insufficient; there must be an obligation imposed by your employer for you to claim additional costs. This distinction is vital in determining the legitimacy of your claim.
  • Record-Keeping for Heating and Lighting Costs: Keep comprehensive records that delineate the portion of heating and lighting costs attributed to employment-related activities versus private use. This meticulous documentation ensures transparency and accuracy in your claims.
  • Allowable Proportion Determination: The allowable proportion is contingent upon the number of rooms in your home and the extent to which they are utilised for work purposes. This determination is pivotal in establishing a fair and justified allocation of costs.

By adhering to these guidelines, you uphold the necessary standards for claiming additional costs related to home-based work and usage of your home for business activities.

Comprehensive Record-Keeping for Varied Expenses and Income

Maintaining meticulous records is indispensable, particularly when it comes to supporting various expense claims and managing income. The nature of the records you need to keep varies, but here is a comprehensive guide to ensure you stay on top of your financial documentation:

  1. State Pension and Other Benefits:
    • Retain details from the Department for Work and Pensions regarding State Pension, taxable state benefits, and various allowances.
    • Keep Form P60, providing details of your occupational pension, including the amount and tax deducted.
  2. Savings and Investments:
    • Archive bank and building society statements, showcasing your financial transactions.
    • Document statements of interest and income from savings and investments, such as annuity investments.
    • Preserve tax deduction certificates from your bank and dividend vouchers from UK companies.
  3. Shares and Share Options:
    • For individuals holding shares or share options due to employment or directorial positions:
      • Record share purchase details, market values, and alterations in rights or restrictions.
      • Keep correspondence related to share transactions, share option certificates, and any benefits received as an employee shareholder.
  4. Other UK or Foreign Income:
    • Depending on your income sources, maintain records such as agreements for freelance income, dividend counterfoils, and personal financial records.
    • Archive certificates or evidence of tax deducted in the UK or foreign countries.
  5. Asset Transactions:
    • Keep contracts for the purchase, sale, lease, or exchange of assets.
    • Document details of assets acquired as gifts or inheritance, along with any valuations considered in gain or loss calculations.
    • Retain evidence of payment records, including bills, invoices, bank statements, and cheque stubs.
  6. Business and Private Asset Usage:
    • For assets used for both business and private purposes, keep records to determine taxable proportions when disposed of.
    • Document correspondence with vendors or purchasers during asset transactions.
  7. Tax Return and VAT Records:
    • Establish a systematic record-keeping system for your business.
    • Regularly maintain and update records throughout the year.
    • Keep records for the necessary duration, considering legal requirements.
  8. Setting Up and Maintaining Records:
    • Initiate a robust record-keeping system for all income, expenses, sales, and purchases associated with your business or trade.
    • Seek assistance in setting up a system at

Effective Business Record-Keeping Practices

Maintaining accurate records is paramount for the smooth functioning of any business. To ensure compliance and facilitate efficient financial management, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Sales and Business Receipts:

    • Record all sales and business receipts promptly as they occur.
    • Keep supporting records, such as invoices, bank statements, and paying-in slips, to provide a clear trail of income sources.
  2. Purchases and Expenses:

    • Document all purchases and expenses in a timely manner.
    • Retain invoices for purchases, except for negligible amounts.
  3. Assets Transactions:

    • Keep a comprehensive record of all purchases and sales involving assets used in your business.
  4. Personal Use Transactions:

    • Record all amounts withdrawn from the business bank account or in cash for personal or family use.
    • Document any amounts injected into the business from personal funds, like life assurance policy proceeds.
  5. Sales Inclusions:

    • Be aware that sales encompass:
      • Goods taken from stock for personal or family consumption, not paid for in cash.
      • Goods or services exchanged with others (barter transactions).
    • Even if not recorded through a till, create a record at the transaction time, detailing the goods involved and their retail selling price.

Effective Financial Documentation for Business Operations

Maintaining detailed records of financial transactions is imperative for the smooth operation of any business. Here are specific guidelines for managing various aspects of your business finances:

Bank and Building Society Accounts:

  • Preserve all bank and building society statements and passbooks related to accounts receiving or disbursing funds for your business.
  • If a dedicated business bank account is absent, meticulously record which transactions are personal and which are business-related.
  • Consider having a separate business account, especially for businesses with a higher transaction volume.

Personal Drawings:

  • Document any funds withdrawn for personal use from:
    • Business cash.
    • The business bank account.
    • Your personal bank account in the absence of a dedicated business account.
  • If using cheques, maintain a cheque stub entry to signify withdrawals for personal purposes.

Private Funds in Business:

  • Keep a clear record of any private funds injected into the business, specifying the source (e.g., legacy, bank loan, friends, family, or life assurance policy proceeds).

Stock and Work in Progress:

  • Conduct a thorough stocktaking exercise at the end of your accounting year to:
    • Identify the costs associated with stock and work in progress.
    • Document these costs systematically.
  • Professional stocktakers can assist in this process; retain and archive their reports.

These practices provide a comprehensive financial history for informed decision-making.

Effective Documentation for Payroll and Business Transactions

For businesses, maintaining meticulous records is not limited to financial transactions alone; it extends to payments to employees, subcontractors in the construction industry, and the use of record books. Here’s a detailed guide to ensure comprehensive record-keeping:

Payments to Employees:

  • As an employer, it’s crucial to retain records supporting deductions for wages, payments, benefits, and related items for your employees.
  • Access additional guidance on maintaining records related to employee payments at HMRC’s official website.
  • Be prepared for compliance checks, during which HMRC may request to review these records. More information on compliance checks can be found here.

Payments to Subcontractors in the Construction Industry:

  • If your business involves payments to subcontractors, detailed records are necessary. Refer to the CIS340 Construction Industry Scheme Guide for comprehensive details on this process.

Using Record Books or Spreadsheets:

  • The choice of record-keeping tools depends on your business’s nature and size. For most businesses, maintaining a cash book (summarizing all bank account entries, cash receipts, payments, and drawings) and a petty cash book is advisable.
  • Larger businesses may require additional account books, and your accountant or HMRC can provide guidance on specific needs.
  • Regularly updating record books is crucial. Whether it’s a petty cash transaction or a bank entry, prompt recording facilitates accurate financial management.

Expenditure without Back-Up Evidence:

  • All business expenditures should be supported by bills or other tangible evidence. In rare cases where receipts for small cash expenses are unavailable (e.g., taxi fares or tips), promptly document the amount spent and the purpose.


In conclusion, meticulous record-keeping is not merely a legal obligation but a fundamental practice for effective tax management. Maintaining meticulous records is vital for fulfilling tax obligations. The provided guide covers a comprehensive range of records required for different aspects of personal and business taxation. Regularly updating and organising these records is not only a compliance necessity but a proactive approach to efficient financial management. For further guidance, visit the HMRC Record-Keeping resource. Remember, mastering the art of record keeping is an investment in the financial health of your personal and business endeavours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *