How long should you keep tax books and records?

There is different legislation around different types of records and therefore there are varying periods of time your expected to keep individual records. You must be aware of the varying periods so not to face unneeded scrutiny and penalties from the HMRC.


VAT records must be kept for at least six years unless the HMRC allows a shorter period. You can request a shorter period by offering a full explanation that justifies why keeping the VAT records is impractical.


The HMRC recommends that PAYE records be kept for at least three years after the income tax year to which they relate.

Company records

Corporation tax self-assessment and accounting records must be held for at least six years from the end of the accounting period.

There are no specific requirements for statutory books, however the Companies Act states that an entry relating to a former member of the company may be removed from the Register of Members 10 years from the day the individual stopped being a member of the organisation.

Government Grants

Any documents that relate to Government grants must be kept generally for at least four years. Any documents relating to gift aid must not be destroyed before consulting the relevant Government department.

Employers’ liability policy certificates

Previously there has been a requirement to keep Employers liability policies for at least 40 years. However, this has been replaced with guidance. Employers must be conscious that their liability for illness and injury at work does the cease when the policy expires. Records should be retained to ensure that future claims are supported and met.

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