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  • Records you need to keep

    You need to keep records for five years (in most cases) from the date you lodge your tax return. Records may include income statements, payment summaries and receipts. You will receive documents that are important for doing your tax during the income year.

    For a summary of this information in poster format, see Records you need to keep – set the record straight (PDF, 893KB)This link will download a file.

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    The importance of keeping records

    Keeping good records helps you and your tax adviser:

    • to provide written evidence of your income and expenses
    • prepare your tax return
    • to ensure you are able to claim all your entitlements
    • prove the information you provided in your tax return (in case we ask you)
    • reduce the risk of tax audits and adjustments
    • improve communication with us
    • resolve issues that relate to a dispute of your assessments or adjustments
    • avoid exposure to penalties.

    Keeping good records reduces the cost of managing your tax affairs. If you use a tax advisor, you can reduce the time they spend sorting and preparing your records. This will give them more time to ensure you claim your entitlements.

    See also:

    How long to keep your records

    Generally, you must keep your written evidence for five years from the date you lodge your tax return.

    There are some more specific situations. If you:

    • claim a deduction for decline in value of depreciating assets – keep records for the five years from the date of your last claim for decline in value
    • acquire or dispose of an asset – keep records for the five years after it is certain that no capital gains tax (CGT) event can happen
    • are in dispute with us – keep records for the later of either    
      • five years from the date you lodge your tax return
      • five years from the date the dispute is resolved.

    Format of your records

    You can keep your records in paper or digital format. If you make paper or digital copies, they must be a true and clear copy of the original.

    We recommend you keep a back-up of all your digital records.

    Your documents must be in English unless you incur the expense outside Australia.

    If you claim a deduction, you must have records to show how you work out your claims. Records are usually a receipt from the supplier of the goods or services. A receipt must show the:

    • name of the supplier
    • amount of the expense
    • nature of the goods or services
    • date the expense was paid
    • date of the document.

    Examples of records you need to keep

    Examples of records you need to keep include:

    • income statements or payment summaries, from your employer and Services Australia
    • statements from your bank and other financial institution showing the interest you earn during the income year
    • dividend statements
    • summaries from managed investment funds
    • receipts or invoices for equipment or asset purchases and sales
    • receipts or invoices for expense claims and repairs
    • contracts
    • tenant and rental records.

    If your total claim for work-related expenses is more than $300, you must have written evidence to prove your claims.

    If you acquire a capital asset – such as an investment property, shares or managed fund investment – start keeping records immediately because you may have to pay capital gains tax if you sell the asset in the future. Keeping records from the start will ensure you don't pay more tax than necessary.

    If you are claiming the cost of a depreciating asset you have used for work, such as a laptop, you must keep records for five years following your final claim, including either:

    • purchase receipts and a depreciation schedule
    • details of how you calculated your claim for decline in value.

    We may ask that you show us your records during the five years, it is important that you have sufficient evidence to support your claims.

    See also:

    myDeductions record keeping tool

    Records you keep don't have to be in paper form. myDeductions is a record-keeping tool that makes it easier for you to keep track of your records digitally.

    We recognise records you store electronically as documents, this includes photos of your receipts.

    Sole traders with simple affairs can also use it to help keep track of their business income and expenses.

    You can upload your records from the myDeductions tool and pre-fill your myTax return. If you use a registered tax agent, you can email your records directly to them.

    The myDeductions tool allows you to keep your records digitally in one place during the income year for:

    • all work-related expenses (including car trips)
    • interest and dividend deductions
    • gifts or donations
    • costs of managing tax affairs
    • sole trader expenses and business income
    • other deductions.

    Watch: A quick demonstration of myDeductions

     

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    Record keeping exceptions

    Record keeping exceptions are available to make things simpler – they don’t allow you to claim an automatic deduction.

    In some circumstances you may not need receipts, but you will still need to be able to show you spent the money and how you work out your claim.

    If you are unable to obtain a receipt from a supplier, you can still claim a deduction if we are satisfied that the nature and quality of the evidence shows you spent the money and are entitled to claim a deduction. Evidence of your expenses can include a bank or credit card statement that shows the amount that was paid, when and who it was paid to as well as other documents that outline the nature of the goods or services provided.

    If you pay cash to a supplier and have no other documentation to support your claim, you will not have sufficient evidence to claim a deduction.

    Lost or destroyed records

    If your records are accidentally lost or destroyed, for example during a burglary or a disaster, you may be able to claim a deduction for certain expenses. If you can either:

    • provide a complete copy of the lost or destroyed records
    • satisfy us that you took reasonable precautions to prevent the loss or destruction and it is not reasonably possible to obtain a copy of the records.

    See also:

    Last modified: 07 Jun 2021QC 31973