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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Record Keeping: What records must be kept: VAT: General

A taxable person, see CH10400, must keep the records we specify in regulations, see CH12200. Apart from these, we do not require VAT registered businesses to keep their records in any set way.

Some VAT special schemes do have detailed accounting requirements, see CH12400. If a VAT registered person wishes to, or must, use a special scheme then they must keep the records laid down for that scheme.

All VAT registered entities, whether they are a business or not, must keep the same records. Almost all entities that are VAT registered will be businesses but there may be some that have significant non-business activities, for example charities. There may also be some which are not businesses at all but who have been registered because of significant purchases from other member states of the European Union.

We can charge a penalty if a person fails to keep or retain records, see VCP11133.

For details of how records may be preserved, see CH13000.

For details of how long records must be retained for, see CH14000.

Records not required to be kept

HMRC can make regulations that may

  • specify the records and supporting documents that must be kept
  • specify the records and supporting documents that need not be kept
  • make different provisions for different cases, and
  • specify records by way of a notice. See CH12400 for examples.

The VAT Regulations do not include any list of what records need not be kept.


SI1995/2518/Regs 31, 31A & 31B