Record keeping

Generally, for tax purposes, you must keep your records in an accessible form (either printed or electronic) for five years.

Basic records

Some of the basic records you may need to keep are:

  • governing documents (for example, constitution, rules, trust deed)
  • financial reports (for example, financial statements, annual budgets, reconciliations, audit reports, accounts payable and accounts receivable)
  • cash book records of daily receipts and payments
  • tax invoices and income tax records, such as debtors and creditors lists, stocktake records and motor vehicle expenses
  • records relating to employees (for example, TFN declarations, pay as you go (PAYG) withholding, superannuation and fringe benefits provided)
  • records of payments withheld from suppliers who do not quote an Australian business number (ABN)
  • banking records (for example, bank statements, deposit books, cheque books, bank reconciliation)
  • grant documentation (for example, when funding will be received, when acquittals need to be made, application deadlines)
  • registration, certificates and accompanying documents to regulators (for example, ATO, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, and state regulators)
  • contracts and agreements (for example, cleaning, maintenance and insurance contracts, finance or lease agreements)
  • copies of reviews of entitlement to tax concessions
  • records to help prepare tax statements and returns.

See also:

Charities – record keeping

If your charity is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), you must keep certain financial and operational records explaining your charity's position and activities. Your charity must keep these records for seven years to meet ACNC record-keeping obligations.

See also:

ACNC Record information: keeping recordsExternal Link

DGRs – record keeping

You must keep records that explain all transactions and other acts relevant to your organisation's status as a DGR. This requirement applies to both endorsed DGRs and listed DGRs.

The records must be in English or easily convertible to English and must be maintained for at least five years after the completion of the transactions or acts to which they relate. The penalty for not keeping proper records is twenty penalty units.

Your records must show that the following were used only for your principal DGR purpose:

  • all gifts, and deductible contributions, of money or property made to it for that purpose
  • money received because of such gifts or deductible contributions.

If your organisation is endorsed as a DGR, as a whole, or listed by name as a DGR, it must keep adequate accounting and other records.

If your organisation is endorsed as a DGR for the operation of a fund, authority or institution, maintaining a gift fund will show it has used its gifts and deductible contributions and their accretions for the principal purpose of its fund, authority or institution.

If your organisation maintains one gift fund for two or more funds, authorities or institutions which it operates, the records must identify gifts and deductible contributions made in respect of each separate fund, authority or institution. You must also show how these gifts and contributions, as well as money received by the fund as a result of them, have been used to further the principal purpose of that fund, authority or institution.

You don't have to keep a record if:

  • we notify you that your DGR does not need to keep the record
  • your DGR is a company that has been finally dissolved.

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Penalties for the current penalty unit amount

Invoices you receive

A tax invoice of more than $75 (excluding GST) must contain enough information to allow key information to be clearly determined, for example, your supplier’s ABN. Otherwise, you generally need to withhold 46.5% from your payment to the supplier.

If you receive a document from a supplier that is missing key information, you may still be able to treat the document as a tax invoice if the document makes clear that it is intended as a tax invoice and the missing information can be obtained from other documents issued by the supplier.

You cannot claim a GST credit in an activity statement unless you have a tax invoice. If you obtain a tax invoice later, you can claim the GST credit in the activity statement for the tax period in which you obtain the tax invoice.

Tax invoices are not required if the GST-exclusive value of the sale is $75 or less. However, you should have some documentary evidence to support all GST credit claims.

If you ask a GST registered supplier to provide a tax invoice, they must do so within 28 days of your request. Organisations not registered for GST cannot issue tax invoices.

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Last modified: 17 Sep 2015QC 16904