Keeping Business Records For The Self Employed

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Keeping Business Records For The Self Employed


What Are Records? 

A business record is any digital or paper document that records a transaction or process that the business has been involved in. For someone who is registered self-employed, there are three types of records that you will deal with regularly, they are accounting, legal, and insurance.  

Why Keep Records? 

To begin with, you have to keep adequate records in order to remain compliant with the rules of being registered self-employed. Failing to do so could result in fines and penalties. Another good reason is that you can file your annual returns quickly and accurately before their deadlines.


By being prepared, if you are ever audited or investigated by HMRC you will have all the required information to hand. Finally, by keeping good records you will have all the necessary information you need to make important decisions for your business, for example if you need a loan, having proper records shows potential investors you are serious. 

What Records DYou Need To Keep? 

  1. Accounting: statements, invoices, receipts

By keeping good accounting records, you can keep track of how money is moving in and out of your business. You are required to keep all your invoices and receipts, as well as all your relevant bank statements. The same goes for any payment slips and chequebook stubs.  

  1. Legal: certificates, contracts, permits and licenses.

It is important that you have copies of all the documents that prove you are registered as self-employed. All of your qualification related certificates must be kept as proof of your training and experience. Details of any contracts that you have signed, should also be kept for future reference. It is a good idea to have up-to date original copies of any permits and licenses, as these will allow you to show you are fully compliant with any regulations in your industry.  

  1. Insurance: policies

Many self-employed people have some for business related insurance. All of your policy statements and renewal documents should be kept in good order, just in case you need to make any insurance related queries or file for a claim.  

How Long DYou Need To Keep Them For? 

Currently you are required to keep all your business records for a minimum of 5 years from the 31st of January of the relevant tax year. However, in most self-employed people tend keep their records indefinitely, choosing to store them when they are past the six-year mark. This is a good idea, because if you are part of an investigation by HMRC, that 5-year time limit maybe longer. 

How and When To Keep Records? 

Even though it may seem daunting at first, keeping proper records doesn’t have to be a chore, all you need is to develop a simple system that you can follow. Start by making a check-list of record keeping tasks that you need to do on a daily weekly and monthly basis. By doing a bit of organisation regularly, you can stay on top of things. This way you will find it much easier when it’s time for to use your business records.  

Nowadays with the added help of technology, you can make the record keeping process relatively stress free, and there are many resources both free and paid that are available to help. It can be helpful to keep both digital and physical copies of all your documents, this way you can have access to the digital copies when you are away from your office. The added benefit is that you have some form of backup should you lose all your physical records. 




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