Business records if you're self-employed

What records to keep

You’ll need to keep records of:

Why you keep records

You do not need to send your records in when you submit your tax return but you need to keep them so you can:

  • work out your profit or loss for your tax return
  • show them to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if asked

You must make sure your records are accurate.

Keep proof

Types of proof include:

  • all receipts for goods and stock
  • bank statements, chequebook stubs
  • sales invoices, till rolls and bank slips

If you’re using traditional accounting

As well as the standard records, you’ll also need to keep further records so that your tax return includes:

  • what you’re owed but have not received yet
  • what you’ve committed to spend but have not paid out yet, for example you’ve received an invoice but have not paid it yet
  • the value of stock and work in progress at the end of your accounting period
  • your year end bank balances
  • how much you’ve invested in the business in the year
  • how much money you’ve taken out for your own use
  1. Step 1 Check if being self-employed is right for you

  2. Step 2 Choose the name you want to trade under

    1. Check the rules for sole trader business names

    You can register a trade mark if you want to stop people from trading under your business name.

    1. Apply to register a trade mark
  3. Step 3 Check what records you'll need to keep

  4. Step 4 Register for tax

    To pay tax, you'll need to register for Self Assessment.

    1. Apply for a National Insurance number if you do not have one
    2. Register for Self Assessment

    You might need to register in a different way if:

    You may also need to register for VAT.

    1. Check if you need to register for VAT