What the law requires

By law, you must keep enough business records to allow us to work out how much tax you are liable to pay. You must keep them:

  • for five years after they are prepared, obtained or the transactions completed, whichever occurs latest, and
  • in English, or in a form that we can access and easily convert, in order to work out the amount of tax you are liable to pay.

You will have to keep records for longer if you use information from those records in a later tax return. For example, if you claim a loss carried forward from a business activity in an earlier year. Under these circumstances, you must keep the records until the end of any period that we can review that later return (referred to as the ‘period of review’).

You may also need to keep records relating to assets for capital gains tax purposes for a longer period.

There are penalties for not maintaining the required records and for not keeping them for five years. Keeping good records will help you avoid these penalties.

Other regulatory bodies may have different record keeping requirements from ours, particularly how long they require you to keep records. For example, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) requires companies to keep records for seven years.

See also:

Last modified: 22 Jan 2016QC 42994