Record keeping (individuals and directors)

If you have to fill in a Self Assessment tax return as an employee, pensioner or company director, this guide explains the records you need to keep. You'll need these records to fill in your tax return or to answer questions from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) about a return you've already filled in.

On this page:

Why you need to keep records

If HMRC needs to check your return, they may ask to see the records you used to fill it in. So you should keep all the records and documents that you used.

You may have to pay a penalty if you don't keep records or if you don't keep your records for long enough.


Types of records you may need to keep

This guide deals with typical records that employees, directors or pensioners, may need to keep.

Income from employment

You should keep documents containing details about your pay and tax that your employer provides, including:

  • your P45 - if you leave your job, part 1A of this form shows your pay and tax to the date you left
  • your P60 - if you're in a job on 5 April, this shows your pay and tax details for the tax year
  • form P11D - this shows details of your expenses and benefits, such as a company car or health insurance
  • certificates for Taxed Award Schemes
  • information about redundancy or termination payments

You should also keep records of other income or benefits from your employment not covered in the list above, for example:

  • tips or gratuities received (but not if your employer pays them to you through a method called the 'tronc' system as they'll already have tax deducted)
  • benefits in kind, for example meal vouchers you receive in connection with your employment from someone other than your employer
  • lump sum payments not included on your P60 or P45, for example incentive payments or golden hellos

Expense records

When you're employed you may have to pay expenses out of your own pocket in order to do your job. You may be able to claim for some or all of these expenses to reduce the tax you'll have to pay. You'll need to keep records so you can include the expenses in your Self Assessment tax return.

More about Tax relief for business expenses

Benefits records

You should keep any records relating to:

  • social security benefits
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Statutory Maternity, Paternity or Adoption Pay
  • Jobseeker's Allowance

Pension records

You should keep:

  • your form P160 (part 1A), which you received when you retired and started getting a pension from your former employer
  • your form P60 giving details of your pension and the tax deducted
  • any other details of a pension (including State Pension) and the tax deducted from it

Interest, dividends or other income from UK savings, investments or trusts

You should keep all:

  • bank and building society statements or passbooks
  • statements of interest and other income you've received from your savings and investments
  • tax deduction certificates supplied by your bank
  • dividend vouchers received from UK companies
  • other vouchers such as scrip dividend vouchers
  • unit trust tax vouchers
  • life insurance chargeable event certificates
  • details of income you receive from a trust

You should also keep:

  • details of exceptional amounts you've received, for example an inheritance or other windfall
  • letters and all other paperwork relating to your savings and investments

Income from property

Keep details of the income and rents you've received, and the expenses you've paid from letting out property.

Renting out your property - learn more (Opens new window)

Foreign income or gains

Keep all dividend vouchers, tax certificates and personal financial records including:

  • records of overseas earned income, for example from employment, self-employment or property letting
  • receipts for any expenses you wish to claim
  • dividend certificates from overseas companies
  • certificates or other records of tax paid - either in the UK or overseas

Income from employee share schemes or share-related benefits

You should keep information on all share schemes or share-related benefits including:

  • copies of share option certificates and exercise notices
  • letters about changes to your options
  • information about what you paid for your shares and the relevant dates
  • details of benefits you've received as an employee shareholder

Capital Gains Tax records

The records you should keep depend on your circumstances. It's a good idea to keep all records of an asset you've owned. This is in case you make a gain or loss when you sell, give away, transfer or exchange it.

Keep all information that you have used to:

  • work out your capital gain or loss
  • fill in your tax return
  • make claims - such as a claim for losses

Record keeping and Capital Gains Tax - find out more


How long to keep your records

You must normally keep your records for another year after the online tax return deadline of 31 January, in case HMRC decides to check your return. The same date applies even if you've sent in a paper tax return.

An example

The tax return deadline for an online 2013-14 return is 31 January 2015.

You send your tax return in before this deadline.

You need to keep your records until 31 January 2016, one year later.

But if HMRC send you, or you send back your tax return very late, you may need to keep your records for longer. You need to keep them until the later of:

  • one year after the 31 January tax return deadline
  • fifteen months after the date you send your tax return

If HMRC has started a check

You may need to keep your records for longer if HMRC has started a check into your tax return. In this case you'll need to keep your records until HMRC writes and tells you they've finished the check.

Read more about checks into tax returns


If your records are lost or destroyed

If your records are lost or destroyed and you can't replace them, you must tell HMRC what has happened. You should try to get the missing information in other ways. For example, you can ask banks for interest figures or copies of bank statements, but they may charge for this.

Don't delay sending in the tax return while you wait for copies of records. Use the information you've managed to get together to fill in the tax return. Where it turns out you can't replace the information you'll need to estimate the missing figures. You must tell HMRC if any figures are:

  • estimated - you want HMRC to accept these as final
  • provisional - you are using these until you can confirm them (you must tell HMRC when you will give actual figures)

If you provide actual figures at a later date and you've underpaid tax there may be interest and penalties to pay.

Tax return deadlines and penalties - find out more


Record keeping guides - other income

The types of records you must keep depend very much on the income you receive.

The sections above deal with typical records that employees, directors and pensioners may need to keep.

If you receive other income, such as income from self-employment or a property business, you need to keep different records and you may need to keep them for longer.

Record keeping for the self-employed

Tax records needed when someone dies

Record keeping for trustees