Basic record keeping requirements

Setting up the right record keeping system for your business will help you work efficiently, meet legal requirements and strengthen customer and staff relationships.

There are certain record keeping requirements for businesses in Queensland, and there may be specific laws and requirements related to your industry sector. It's a good idea to protect yourself by seeking expert advice before setting up a record keeping system for your business.

Laws that apply to your business will determine how long you need to keep records for. If you use an electronic record keeping system, you must also be able to produce a hard copy of a record if the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) request it.

For financial reporting, ASIC's Regulatory index - financial reporting breaks reporting requirements down by business type.

Personal financial records must be kept for 5 years, whereas the following records must be kept for 7 years:

  • financial records for your company
  • most employee records
  • all records of fringe benefits and capital gains.

Basic records

To meet basic legal requirements, you must keep the following:

  • a cash book or financial accounting program — that records cash receipts and cash payments
  • bank accounts — cheque books, deposit books and bank statements
  • employment records — hours of work, overtime, remuneration or other benefits, leave, superannuation benefits, termination of employment, type of employment, personal details of workers, employee personal contact and employment details
  • occupational training records — for both you and employees to comply with work, health and safety laws including evacuation and emergency training attendance
  • sales records — invoice books, receipt books, cash register tapes, credit card documentation, credit notes for goods returned and a record of goods used by the business owner personally
  • proof of purchases — cheque butts (larger purchases), petty cash system (smaller cash purchases), receipts, credit card statements, invoices, any other documents relating to purchases including copies of agreements or leases
  • work, health and safety (WHS) records — workplace incidents, risk register and management plan, names of key WHS people (e.g. WHS representative, Trained Safety Advisor (TSA), first aid attendant), chemical storage records, first aid incident register, workplace assessments, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

Read more about keeping your workplace safe.

It is a good idea to keep personal and business records separate, to simplify business reporting and tax returns. For example, using a dedicated business credit and debit card for business expenses will make it easy to separate business and personal expenses.

End of financial year records

To meet legal requirements, maximise your tax return or minimise your tax bill at the end of the financial year, keep the following records:

  • details of stock on hand — at the beginning and end of the financial year
  • a list of debtors and creditors — for the entire financial year
  • capital gains details — records of asset purchase dates and agreements, records of sale, disposal and proceeds received, details of commissions paid or legal expenses, improvements made to an asset and any other records relevant to how you calculate your capital gain or capital loss
  • depreciation details — original purchase agreements or tax invoices, a depreciation schedule, the cost of transporting the items to your business (if applicable), installation costs (if applicable)
  • expense records — cheque butts, receipts, cash register tapes, copies of statements and invoices, credit card documentation, details of payments by cash and log books
  • staff and wages details — full details of wages, employment contracts, tax deducted, fringe benefits, superannuation, sick pay, holiday pay
  • basic accounting records — stock records, accounts receivable, accounts payable, other records
  • agreements — sales and purchase contracts, loan agreements, rental agreements, lease agreements, franchise agreements, sale and lease back agreements, trading agreements with suppliers, legal documentation
  • other documents — deposits with utilities, contracts with phone companies, your business name registration certificate, capital gains records.

Learn more about basic tax requirements for your business.

Best practice and record keeping

Depending on your industry, keeping the following records may be a legal requirement, but it is best practice to keep them for 5-7 years:

  • employee accreditation certificates and licences — copies of permits, registrations and licences employees need to do their jobs
  • employee resumes and job applications
  • performance reviews — including assessments of staff performance and agreements between you and your employees
  • position statements and job advertisements
  • customer records — personal details, products purchased and product enquiries that are useful for finding new customers
  • customer complaints — details of complaints about products, service, staff or anything else, and steps taken to resolve them
  • details of any disputes with other businesses — including how you went about resolving disputes
  • quotes given and won — specifics of jobs and time spent on them to help with future quoting
  • details of advertising campaigns and success — to make it easier to repeat advertisements and plan future advertising campaigns
  • insurance policies — regularly review and update your business insurance, especially when your business grows or changes.

Also consider...