Managing your finances can be a complex task, especially when it comes to paying taxes. In the United Kingdom, the self-assessment tax system places the responsibility squarely on the individual taxpayer to report their income, calculate their tax liability, and keep accurate records. As you navigate through the world of self-assessment tax, it’s essential to know how long to keep your financial records. In this article, we will explore the guidelines and best practices for retaining self-assessment tax records in the UK.

The Basics of Self-Assessment Tax

Self-assessment tax is a system used in the UK that allows individuals to declare their income and capital gains to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The process requires taxpayers to submit an annual tax return, either online or by post, detailing their income, deductions, and tax liabilities. Keeping accurate records of your income, expenses, and tax-related documents is crucial to complete this process correctly and efficiently.

Record-Keeping Periods for Self-Assessment Tax

The rules for how long you should keep your self-assessment tax records in the UK are defined by the legislation known as the Taxes Management Act 1970. The following is an overview of the general retention periods for various tax records:

Tax Returns and Supporting Documentation:

You must keep copies of your tax returns and any supporting documents for at least 22 months from the end of the tax year to which they relate. For example, if you’re filing a tax return for the 2022/23 tax year, you should retain these records until at least December 31, 2024.

This retention period ensures that you have your records on hand if the HMRC decides to carry out an investigation or review of your tax affairs.

Business and Self-Employed Individuals:

For self-employed individuals and businesses, the general rule is to keep your financial records, including income and expenses, for at least five years after the 31st January filing deadline of the relevant tax year. For example, records for the 2022/23 tax year should be retained until January 31, 2029.

This extended retention period accounts for the potential for HMRC to conduct investigations into business or self-employment activities.

How can self assessment tax records help you?

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to complete a Self Assessment tax return with the help of professional tax advisor in th southall every year. This is a form that you fill in detailing your income and expenses for the year, and any tax you owe is calculated based on this information.

Self Assessment tax returns can be a bit daunting, but it’s important to make sure that you fill them in correctly. One way to do this is to keep good records of your income and expenditure throughout the year. This will make it much easier to complete your Self Assessment tax return accurately, and could save you money if you’re audited by HMRC.

Self assessment tax records can also be useful if you need to apply for a mortgage or other loan. Lenders will often ask to see your tax records for the last few years to assess your financial situation. Having up-to-date records will make it much easier to get a loan approved.

Capital Gains Tax:

Records related to capital gains tax should be kept for at least 22 months after the end of the tax year in which the transaction occurred. If the disposal of an asset falls within the 2022/23 tax year, records should be retained until at least December 31, 2024.

If you own multiple assets, such as shares, property, or other investments, it’s essential to maintain records that document the acquisition and sale details.

PAYE and Employee Records:

Employers should maintain payroll records, including employee earnings, tax deductions, and National Insurance contributions, for at least three years from the end of the tax year they relate to. For instance, records for the 2022/23 tax year should be kept until April 5, 2026.

Employers should also keep P45s and P60s for employees.

Property Records:

If you own a property, it’s important to keep records related to property income and expenses, such as rental income and mortgage interest, for at least five years from the 31st January following the end of the tax year.

Why It’s Important to Keep Records

Maintaining accurate self-assessment tax records is not only a legal obligation but also a practical necessity. Here are several reasons why record-keeping is vital:

HMRC Audits: The HMRC has the authority to conduct tax investigations or audits to ensure taxpayers are correctly reporting their income and taxes. If you’re selected for an audit, having well-organized records will help you prove your tax liability.

Claiming Deductions: Accurate records allow you to claim all the deductions and allowances you’re entitled to, potentially reducing your tax liability. Without proper documentation, you may miss out on tax savings.

Peace of Mind: Knowing that you have maintained your records correctly provides peace of mind. It reduces the stress and uncertainty associated with potential audits or inquiries.

Refinancing or Selling Assets: Detailed records are invaluable when refinancing property or selling assets, as lenders and buyers often require proof of income and expenses.

How to keep self assessment tax records?

It’s important to keep good records when you’re self-employed. This will make it easier for you to do your self-assessment tax return and could help you get any money you’re entitled to back if there are any problems.

You need to keep records of:

-Your income

-Any expenses you want to claim against your income

-Any other information that might be relevant to your tax return, such as records of charitable donations

You should keep records for at least five years after the end of the tax year they relate to. For example, records for the tax year 2018-19 should be kept until at least 2024.

If you’re unsure about what records you need to keep, you can get help from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

What to do with self assessment tax records?

If you’re a self-employed individual or run a business, you’ll need to complete a self-assessment tax return each year. This is a form that details your income and expenses for the year, and is used to calculate how much tax you owe.

Once you’ve completed your self-assessment tax return, you’ll need to keep the records that you used to complete it for at least five years. This is in case HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) needs to check your return or if you need to file an amended return.

If you’re registered for self-assessment online, you can keep your records in an electronic format. Otherwise, you’ll need to keep paper records. Either way, you should keep records of your:



-Bank statements

-Asset purchases and sales

If you’re unsure what records you need to keep, HMRC has a helpful guide on their website.

Once you’ve got your records in order, you can either file them away yourself or use a self-assessment tax return service that will keep them for you.

If you do decide to keep your records yourself, make sure you store them in a safe and secure place. You might want to consider storing them electronically on a password-protected computer or in a locked filing cabinet.

Whatever method you choose, make sure you keep your records safe and accessible in case you need them in the future.

How often to update self assessment tax records?

The amount of time you need to keep your self assessment records varies depending on the type of records and the nature of your business. Here are some general guidelines:

  • 1. Keep your business records for at least 5 years. This includes things like invoices, receipts, bank statements, and tax returns.
  • 2. Keep your personal tax records for at least 10 years. This includes things like your W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and tax returns.
  • 3. Keep records of any property or assets you own for at least 10 years. This includes things like deeds, mortgage documents, and appraisal reports.
  • 4. Keep records of any major financial transactions for at least 10 years. This includes things like stock purchases, real estate transactions, and large business purchases.
  • 5. Keep records of any legal agreements or contracts for at least 10 years. This includes things like leases, loans, and divorce settlements.


Understanding how long to keep self-assessment tax records in the UK is crucial for staying compliant with tax regulations and ensuring a smooth tax-filing process. While the general guidelines for retention periods have been discussed in this article, it’s important to consult with a qualified accountant or tax advisor for personalized advice, especially if your tax situation is complex.

In summary, keep tax returns and supporting documents for at least 22 months, self-employed and business records for at least five years, capital gains tax records for at least 22 months, PAYE and employee records for three years, and property records for at least five years. Remember, the key to successful tax management is not only filing your tax returns accurately but also keeping your financial records in good order.


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