You need to keep your tax records for five years from when you lodge your tax return in case ATO ask you to substantiate your claims.
Records are usually a receipt from the supplier of the goods or services. A receipt must show the name of the supplier, amount of the expense, nature of the goods or services, date the expense was paid and date of the document.
What type of records you need to keep?
There are five main categories of tax records that you should keep.
- All payments you have received, including wages, interest, dividends, rental income, pensions etc
- Expenses that you incurred that are related to the income you received. For example, if you must purchase a special uniform for work or made a repair on your rental property.
- Paperwork related to the acquisition or sale of an asset. This is most often in relation to a home sale or purchase, but also includes other major assets such as shares.
- Donations, contributions or gifts to charitable organisations.
- Disability aids, attendant care or aged care expenses for you and any family member
A good rule of thumb to follow if you are not sure if a record should be kept, you should keep it. You can decide whether you need it at tax return time.
What happens if I’ve lost or destroyed the records ?
There may be times when your records are accidentally lost or destroyed – for example, if your home is burgled or burnt.
In these instances, you can still claim a deduction for certain expenses if either of the following apply:
- you have a complete copy of a lost or destroyed document
- we are satisfied that you took reasonable precautions to prevent the loss or destruction and, if the document was written evidence, it is not reasonably possible to obtain a substitute document.
It is always a good idea to keep your records in a fire safe box that is locked at all times. Having copies in a separate location will always be helpful.
Documents that you are required to keep can be in written or electronic form. If you make paper or electronic copies they must be a true and clear reproduction of the original.
If you store your tax records electronically, it is recommended that you backup the files or store them online as a safety measure in case the hard drive is corrupted.
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