4. Company and accounting records

You must keep:

  • records about the company itself
  • financial and accounting records

You can hire a professional (eg an accountant) to help with your tax.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) may check your records to make sure you’re paying the right amount of tax.

Records about the company

You must keep details of:

  • directors, shareholders and company secretaries
  • the results of any shareholder votes and resolutions
  • promises for the company to repay loans at a specific date in the future (‘debentures’) and who they must be paid back to
  • promises the company makes for payments if something goes wrong and it’s the company’s fault (‘indemnities’)
  • transactions when someone buys shares in the company
  • loans or mortgages secured against the company’s assets

You must tell Companies House if you keep the records somewhere other than the company’s registered office address.

Accounting records

You must keep accounting records that include:

  • all money received and spent by the company
  • details of assets owned by the company
  • debts the company owes or is owed
  • stock the company owns at the end of the financial year
  • the stocktakings you used to work out the stock figure
  • all goods bought and sold
  • who you bought and sold them to and from (unless you run a retail business)

You must also keep any other financial records, information and calculations you need to complete your Company Tax Return. This includes records of all money:

  • spent by the company, eg receipts, petty cash books, orders and delivery notes
  • received by the company, eg invoices, contracts, sales books and till rolls

You must also keep any other relevant documents, eg bank statements and correspondence.

If you don’t keep accounting records, you can be fined £3,000 by HMRC or disqualified as a company director.

How long to keep records

You must normally keep records for at least 6 years from the end of the last company financial year they relate to.

You may need to keep records longer if:

  • they show a transaction that covers more than one of the company’s accounting periods
  • the company has bought something that it expects to last more than 6 years, like equipment or machinery
  • you sent your Company Tax Return late
  • HMRC has started a compliance check into your Company Tax Return

If your records are lost, stolen or destroyed

If you can’t replace your records after they were lost, stolen or destroyed you must:

  • do your best to recreate them
  • tell your Corporation Tax office straight away

Check recent tax forms or letters from HMRC for the address of your tax office or call the helpline.

Recreating records for your Company Tax Return

Tell HMRC when you file your Company Tax Return if you’re using:

  • ‘estimated figures’ (your best guess when you can’t provide the actual figures)
  • ‘provisional figures’ (your estimate until you confirm the actual figures – tell HMRC when you’ll provide the actual figures)