How long to keep accounting records

UK companies must keep their accounting records for a number of years. How long to keep accounting records is dependent on whether you are a private company or a public limited company (PLC).

In brief, accounting records include your company accounts, company tax return, VAT returns, Payroll records and other financial records.

Section 388 (a) and (b) of the Companies Act 2006 made this clear. A private limited company must keep their accounting records for 3 years. Whereas, a PLC must keep their accounting records for 6 years. The keeping record date starts from your last company accounting year-end date.

In some cases, your company may require to keep financial records for more than 6 years. For examples,

  • To show a transaction that covers two accounting periods.
  • Your company’s equipment or machinery has an economic useful life span longer than 6 years.
  • You deliver your company tax return to HMRC late.
  • HMRC started a compliance check into your company tax return.

Where to keep your accounting records?

Generally, you must keep your company records at your registered office address in the UK. If for any reasons, you would like to store your records somewhere else, you must notify Companies House. The somewhere else, in the UK company law, it is called the Single Alternative Inspection Location (SAIL).

Usually, you would keep your financial records with your company registers at the same place. Your company registers would include the register of directors, copies of your confirmation statement file with Companies House and so on.

For this purpose, both your registered office address and your SAIL address must not be a P O BOX address. They must be a physical location.

If you have any questions about your company accounts, contact Companies House. For any questions relating to your company tax returns, contact HMRC. You may also speak with our London accountants.

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