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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Record Keeping: Nature and extent of records

The records that a person keeps will generally reflect the size and complexity of their affairs. They may range from the simplest of manual records for a sole trader to the most sophisticated computerised system for a multi-national company.

The records do not have to be in any particular format, but they should be up to date and kept in sufficient detail to

  • allow the person to make a correct and complete return
  • allow the person to calculate the correct amount of tax or duty to be paid or claimed
  • enable us to check the figures on the return or claim.

The precise nature and extent of the records needed to fulfil these requirements depends on the type and size of the business or the person’s affairs.

Commercial and accounting practices that are common to certain trade sectors, such as self-billing and authenticated receipts in the construction industry, also influence the way in which records are preserved. And Section 386 Companies Act 2006 sets out the accounting records that a company must keep, see CH11400.

You can find examples of the common types of business and accounting records in