What records do you need to keep?
This information may not apply to the current year. Check the content carefully to ensure it is applicable to your circumstances.
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You must keep records of every act, transaction, event or circumstance that may be relevant to working out whether you have made a capital gain or capital loss from a CGT event. It does not matter whether the CGT event has already happened or whether it may happen.
The records must be in English (or be readily accessible or translatable into English) and must show:
- the nature of the act, transaction, event or circumstance
- the day it happened
- who did the act or who were the parties to the transaction, and
- how the act, transaction, event or circumstance is relevant to working out the capital gain or capital loss.
The following are examples of records you may need to keep:
- receipts of purchase or transfer
- details of interest on money you borrowed relating to this asset
- records of agent, accountant, legal and advertising costs
- receipts for insurance costs, rates and land taxes
- any market valuations
- receipts for the cost of maintenance, repairs and modifications, and
- accounts showing brokerage on shares.
You should also keep records to establish whether you have claimed an income tax deduction for an item of expenditure. In many cases, if you have claimed a deduction for an amount, the expenditure may not be included in the cost base or reduced cost base of a CGT asset.
Records relating to real estate
Real estate can include the family home, vacant blocks of land, business premises, rental properties, holiday houses and hobby farms.
Even though your family home is usually exempt, if you acquired it on or after 20 September 1985, try to keep all records relating to the home, just as you would for other items of real estate. If the home ceases to be fully exempt at some time in the future, you will need to know the full cost of the home so that you do not pay more CGT than necessary. If you do not have sufficient records, reconstructing them later could be difficult. See chapter 6 for details of when your home may not be fully exempt.
Keep a copy of the purchase contract and all receipts for expenses relating to the purchase of the property - for example, stamp duty, legal fees, survey and valuation fees. Also keep all records relating to the CGT event and all relevant expenses - for example, the sale contract and records of legal fees and stamp duty.
Keep a record of capital expenditure on improvements, costs of owning the property and capital expenditure on maintaining title or right to it that you incurred during your period of ownership. These costs may form part of the cost base in working out whether you have made a capital gain or capital loss at the time the CGT event happens.
Capital expenditure on improvements may include building an extension, addition or improvement, including initial repairs.
Examples of costs of owning real estate include interest, rates and land taxes, insurance premiums and cost of repairs or replacing broken items. You only include such costs if you acquired the CGT asset on or after 21 August 1991 and if you have not claimed, and cannot claim, a tax deduction for them.
If the property is your home and you use it to produce income (for example, by renting out part or all of it), you will need to keep records of the period the home is producing income and the proportion of the home you have used to produce income.
If, after 20 August 1996, you use your home for income-producing purposes for the first time, you will be taken to have acquired your home at that time for its market value. You will use this as your acquisition cost for the purpose of calculating a capital gain or capital loss at the time the CGT event happens. You will still need to keep details of expenses relating to your home after the date that it started producing income.
Chapter 8 has some information about records you may need to obtain from your spouse if your marriage or de facto marriage has broken down and a CGT rollover applies on the transfer of real estate.
Records relating to shares in companies and units in unit trusts
Most of the records you need to keep regarding your disposal of shares in companies or units in unit trusts (including managed funds), will be given to you by the company, the unit trust manager or your stockbroker. It is important for you to keep everything they give you on your shares and units.
These records will generally provide the following important information:
- the date of purchase of the shares or units
- the amount paid to purchase the shares or units
- details of any non-assessable payments made to you during the time you owned the shares or units
- the date and amount of any calls if shares were partly paid
- the sale price if you sell them, and
- any commissions paid to brokers when you buy or sell them.
There are special CGT rules for certain shares and units which may affect the records you keep - for example, bonus shares and units, rights and options, and employee shares. See chapter 5 for more information.
Records relating to bonus shares
To be safe, if you have received any bonus shares on or after 20 September 1985, keep all the documents the company gives you.
For any bonus shares issued before 1 July 1987, you need to know when the original shares were acquired. If you acquired them on or after 20 September 1985, you will also need to know what they cost. Flowchart 1 in appendix 3. summarises the different rules applying to the treatment of bonus shares.
Keep a record of any amounts you paid to acquire the bonus shares and any amounts taxed as a dividend when they were issued.
Records relating to inheriting an asset
If you inherited an asset as a beneficiary of the estate of a person who died on or after 20 September 1985, you may need to obtain information from the executor or trustee.
If the deceased person acquired the asset before 20 September 1985, you need to know the market value of the asset at the date of the person's death and the amount of any relevant costs incurred by the executor or trustee. This is the amount that the asset is taken to have cost you. If the executor or trustee has a valuation of the asset, get a copy of that valuation report. Otherwise, you will need to get your own valuation.
If the asset you inherit was acquired by the deceased person on or after 20 September 1985, you need to know full details of all relevant costs incurred by the deceased person and by the executor or trustee. Get those details from the executor or trustee.
Inheriting a main residence
If you inherit a house that was the deceased's main residence, any capital gain on its subsequent disposal may be exempt. However, until the exemption is certain, you should keep records of relevant costs incurred by you, the deceased or their trustee or executor.
You will not need to keep records of the deceased's costs if:
- you inherited the house after 20 August 1996
- the house was the deceased's main residence just before they died, and
- the house was not being used to produce income at the time of death.
In these circumstances, you will be taken to have acquired the house at its market value at the date of death. If the executor or trustee has a valuation of the asset, get a copy of that valuation report. Otherwise you will need to get your own valuation.
Last modified: 25 May 2020QC 27893