Penalties for not keeping proper records

This fact sheet explains what records you need to keep and what penalties we may impose if you fail to keep proper records.

Terms we use:

  • When we say 'you', we mean you as a small business or non-profit organisation.

What records do you need to keep?

Under tax law, you must keep records:

  • that specify and explain all transactions. This includes any documents that are relevant for the purpose of working out your tax liabilities. You should make records of transactions as soon as they occur or as soon as possible afterwards
  • relating to all taxes for which you are liable. This may include income tax, goods and services tax, pay as you go taxes, capital gains tax, and fringe benefits tax
  • relating to any election, choice, determination or calculation made under a tax law, including the basis on which any were made.

These records must generally be kept for a minimum of five years.

See also:

The Record keeping evaluation tool helps you understand what records you need to keep and evaluates whether your record-keeping practices are adequate. It provides a list of records tailored for your business, a report on how well your business is keeping its records, and suggested improvements where appropriate.

Next steps:

    Last modified: 22 Jan 2016QC 17866