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What Records Should Self-Employed Individuals Keep?

Wednesday 10th April 2024

You must keep records of your business income and expenses for your tax return if you’re self-employed as a:

  • Sole Trader

  • Partner in a business partnership

You’ll also need to keep records of your personal income. 

Accounting Methods

Traditional Accounting - 

Many businesses use traditional accounting where you record income and expenses by the date you invoiced or were billed. 

Cash Basis Accounting - 

Most small businesses with an income of £150,000 or less can use cash basis reporting. 

With this method, you only record income or expenses when you receive money or pay a bill. This means you will not need to pay Income Tax on money you have not yet received in your accounting period.   

What Records to Keep

You’ll need to keep records of:

  • All sales and income

  • All business expenses

  • VAT records if you’re registered for VAT

  • PAYE records if you employ people

  • Records about your personal income

  • Your grants, if you claimed through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Why You Keep Records

You do not need to send your records in when you submit your tax return but you need to keep them so you can: 

  • Work out your profit or loss for your tax return

  • Show them to HMRC if asked. 

You must make sure your records are accurate. 

Keep Proof - Types of proof include:

  • All receipts for goods and stock

  • Bank statements, chequebook stubs

  • Sales invoices, till rolls, and bank slips 

If You Use Traditional Accounting

As well as standard records, you’ll also need to keep further records so that your tax return includes:

  • What you’re owed but have not received yet.

  • What you’ve committed to spend but have not paid out yet, for example, you’ve received an invoice but have not paid it yet.    

  • The value of stock and work in progress at the end of your accounting period. 

  • Your year-end bank balances. 

  • How much you’ve invested in the business in the year. 

  • How much money you’ve taken out for your own use.  

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