Five Record Keeping Rules by the Australian Taxation Office

As a business owner, it pays to organise business records to comply with the ATO requirements. These documents will support the information you submit to the ATO for tax returns and reports.

The ATO has five rules for record keeping. They include:

  • Keeping all records related to starting, operating, changing, and selling/closing your business. They must be relevant to your tax and super affairs.
  • Storing records that protects all information from being changed or damaged
  • Five-year retention period of records in general, starting from when the record is prepared or obtained or completed the transaction. Some records require more than five years.
  • Usage of English, or can be easily converted to English.
  • Being able to produce the record if the ATO requests to see any of it.

Types of record to keep

  1. Financial records

Your financial records must present your business cash flow, the current financial position, and details on how tax return is prepared.

Some of the documents to include are:

  • Receipts and invoices for goods and/or services you sell
  • Bank statements and loan documents
  • Business assets register
  • Business Activity Statements (BAS) and annual tax returns
  • Other financial documents

  1. Employee records

If you employ staff in your business, you need to keep records of:

  • Employee information (Ie. pay, attendance, leave credits, working hours)
  • Superannuation contributions
  • Contact details
  • Work performance
  • Bank accounts and tax file number (TFN)

Keeping these records shows that you are able to meet your obligations as an employer.

  1. Legal records

These include registration documents and contracts with suppliers and clients, leases, and other agreements you entered into.

You should also keep records of your policies and procedures when working on site. For example, workplace health and safety plans must adhere to the recent legislative changes to address the current pandemic.

  1. Other business records

Other business records that might be requested from you include, but not limited to:

  • Customer records
  • Quotes and contracts given and won
  • Insurance policies
  • Marketing campaigns

Why good record keeping is important

Organising and storing your records helps you:

  • Monitor your business progress
  • Track your income and expenses
  • Protect the documents from any damages
  • Easily provide necessary requirements to ATO

Online reporting tools are useful to maintain good record keeping for five years and more. You may visit the ATO website to know more about the available online reporting tools you can use.

Message our team at or give us a call at 02 9979 5033 if you need help in managing your business records.

 This article is provided as general information only and does not consider your specific situation, objectives or needs. It does not represent accounting advice upon which any person may act.