Record keeping for tax purposes

By law, you must keep certain records that document and explain all the transactions for your business. These records should include all documents that you use to determine your income and expenditure.

You must keep the following records for 5 years:

  • receipts for supplies, including
    • records of supplies
    • cash register (till) tapes/totals
    • deposit books and bank statements
  • acquisition and other expenses, including
    • expense payment records
    • invoices and statements for acquisitions
    • receipts from small cash acquisitions
    • cheque butts
    • logbooks for car expenses
  • wages records, including

You must keep other receipts for supplies, including credit card dockets (merchant's copy) and cash register tapes, for 1 month if reconciled with actual sales, or 5 years if not reconciled.

Use the Australian Taxation Office's (ATO) record-keeping evaluation tool to work out what you need to keep, and how to improve your record keeping.

An accountant can also help you set up a record-keeping system.

Record keeping for duties, payroll tax and land tax

You must keep records relating to duties (stamp duty), payroll tax and land tax for 5 years unless advised otherwise by the Office of State Revenue.

You must store original documents even if you keep electronic records. For auditing purposes, electronic records must be easy to access and read.

It is an offence to not keep these records or to wilfully damage or destroy them, even if they have been duplicated (e.g. by scanning).

Self assessors

Self assessors must keep all documents used to determine an assessment for 5 years after the transaction has been completed, including:

  • copies of stamped contracts and settlement statements
  • documents concerning associated transactions (for aggregation purposes)
  • completed forms (e.g. forms D2.1, D2.7 and D2.2)
  • valuations
  • third party documents showing when a condition was met (e.g. finance approval, building inspections)
  • evidence supporting a change in the purchase price
  • documents that support exemption claims (e.g. statutory declarations)
  • any other information relied on (e.g. calculations, interactive tool print-outs, file notes).

See part 9 of the Taxation Administration Act 2001 for more information.