A person who carries on a trade (including the letting of property), profession or business must retain their records and supporting documents, see CH11200. until the latest of
- the fifth anniversary of the 31 January next following the year of assessment, where the return is for a tax year. For example, the records for the year ending 5 April 2009 must be kept at least until 31 January 2015
- the sixth anniversary of the end of the period, where the return is for a period that is not a tax year. For example, the records for a return for the period 6 April to 9 July 2010 must be kept until 9 July 2016
- the completion of an enquiry into the return. For example if an enquiry into a return for the year ended 5 April 2009 was closed on 24 September 2016 the records for the year must be kept until at least that date, and
- the day on which the enquiry window for that return closes without an enquiry being opened.
For a return filed on time this is 12 months after the date it is filed. For a return filed late, it is the first anniversary of the next quarter day falling after the return was filed. There is no difference between paper and on-line returns. You look at the date the return was filed.
Exceptionally, we may give a person a notice to make a return for a tax year or period after the date in 1 or 2 above has passed. The person must keep any records that they still have at that time until the later of the dates in 3 or 4 above.
If the records relate to the acquisition or improvement of a capital asset, see CH14650 .
A person registered for VAT may be allowed to retain certain records for VAT purposes for a shorter period than those described above. CH15000 onwards describes how long VAT records must be retained.
We can charge a penalty if a person fails to keep or retain records, see EM4650.