Accurate record-keeping is essential for filing your tax returns — but do you know how long to keep self-assessment tax records in the UK?

While you don’t need to include your tax records when you file your return, you will need to provide them if HMRC requests proof. Here’s what you need to know.

This is how long to keep self-assessment tax records UK

How long to keep your self-assessment records in the UK will depend on your circumstances.

For example, you may need to hold onto your records for longer if you’re self-employed, if you’re buying and selling assets or if you filed your tax return late.

Did you meet the self-assessment deadline?

If you sent your return on or before the deadline of the relevant tax year, you must keep your records for at least 22 months after the end of the tax year.

The 2021/22 tax year ended on 31 March 2022 — so you’ll need to keep all your tax records for that year on hand until the end of January 2024.

Meanwhile, if you missed the self-assessment return deadline, you need to keep your records for at least 15 months after you sent the tax return.

Sole traders and partnerships

If you’re self-employed, however, you must keep your business records for at least five years after the filing deadline.

The self-assessment deadline for 2021/22 was 31 January 2023. That means that you’ll need to hold onto your receipts and tax records for that tax year until 31 January 2028.

Business owners who send their tax returns very late (more than four years after the deadline) must keep their records for 15 months after sending the return.

The same rules apply if you’re in a partnership.

If your records are destroyed or lost

In cases where you’ve lost your records and can’t replace them, you’ll still need to provide HMRC with estimated figures. You can also give provisional estimates to HMRC and provide the correct figures at a later date.

However, failing to provide the records you used to complete your return may result in a fine from HMRC. Furthermore, you may need to pay interest if it turns out you’ve underpaid your tax bill.

Where should you keep your records?

There are currently no rules dictating how you should keep your tax records — so long as they are accurate and up to date.

You can keep your records on paper, but you may prefer to store them digitally instead. This can make it easier and quicker to access them if HMRC requests proof.

Stricter rules will apply, however, when Making Tax Digital for income tax self-assessment (MTD for ITSA) rolls out in 2026. Under MTD for ITSA, you’ll need to keep digital records and file quarterly income tax returns using HMRC-approved cloud accounting software.

Read our article from January for more details on the benefits of cloud accounting.

What self-assessment records do you need to keep?

If you file a self-assessment return as an employee or limited company director, you’ll need to keep hold of various documents about your employment income and taxes.

For example, if you claim expenses against your earnings, you must keep details such as mileage records or receipts to support your claim.

You’ll usually have to keep more detailed records if you’re self-employed or in a partnership. Depending on the nature of your business, you should aim to keep documentation relating to the following:

  • sales and business income
  • business expenses
  • business assets
  • PAYE records
  • any rental income.

You should also keep your personal records separate from your business records as much as possible.

Unsure about your obligations? Get in touch with us to find out how long to keep self-assessment records in the UK.