Self Assessment ― record keeping

By Tolley

The following Personal Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Self Assessment ― record keeping
  • Time limit
  • In what form should the documents be retained?
  • Penalties
  • Digital record keeping required for MTD

There is a legal requirement to retain records relating to the Self Assessment Tax Return. Although it is the taxpayer who must retain the records, as his agent, it is acceptable for you to retain documents on your files (subject to your internal policy on document retention and data protection).

It is not specified in the legislation in what form the records must be kept (eg electronic records or paper copies). However, there is guidance in the HMRC Compliance Manual on this matter (see below). There is also guidance on the GOV.UK website .

Digital record keeping which will be required under making tax digital (MTD) is discussed at the end of this guidance note.

Time limit

Even taking into account the time limits for keeping records discussed below, it is still a good idea to advise the taxpayer to retain documents relating to exceptional transactions for a longer period of time. If HMRC suspects that evasion has taken place, it can raise tax assessments going back as far as 20 years. As this is outside of the normal time limits, the taxpayer will find it difficult to defend himself against such an assessment if the records outside the statutory time limit have been destroyed.

TMA 1970, s 36
Taxpayers not carrying on a trade or business

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