Under current legislation, business owners must retain their records for six years. Payroll records, CIS records and personal tax return information may be retained for less.
HMRC provide no rules regarding the format of the records, but as a minimum they should include all sales and purchase invoices.
Ultimately, the most important factor is that you keep accurate, timely records. So these could be anything from manual cashbooks, to computerised spreadsheets, to a sophisticated computerised bookkeeping package.
Penalties will apply if HMRC ever enquired into your affairs and found no evidence to back up the figures in your income tax or VAT returns. HMRC are also clamping down on poor records, and can impose fines in severe cases where the records are felt to be inadequate and inaccurate.
For advice on finding the right bookkeeping solution for you and more detail on your obligations, please feel free to contact your local TaxAssist Accountant.