How Should You Store Company Records?

I read recently of a small trader that had his company records ’stolen’ from his house along with some nick-nacks and I have to say it made me think, writes Mick Friend. The victim was bemoaning the fact that HMRC smiled and said ’tough your problem. File on time or be fined’.

So what is the position?

This is from the HMRC website:
For a sole trader account – records you must keep
• a record of all your sales and takings
• a record of all your purchases and expenses.

How long to keep your records
You must normally keep your business records for another five years after the online tax return deadline of 31 January, in case HMRC decides to check your return. The same date applies even if you’ve sent in a paper tax return.

If your records are lost or destroyed
If your business records have been lost or destroyed and you can’t replace them you must let HMRC know what’s happened. You should try to get the missing information in other ways. For example, you can ask banks for interest figures or copies of bank statements. They may charge for this.

Don’t delay sending in the tax return while you wait for copies of records. Use the information you’ve managed to get together to fill in the tax return. If it turns out you can’t replace the information you’ll need to estimate the missing figures. You must tell HMRC whether any figures are:

• estimated – you want HMRC to accept these as final
• provisional – you are using these until you can confirm them (you must tell HMRC when you will give actual figures)

If you amend the tax return later and you’ve underpaid tax, you may have to pay interest and penalties.

How can you protect yourself?
We all know about Virus attacks and many have had hard disc crashes. Electronic data should be backed up, stored off site or maybe a cloud account and a quality virus programme installed. But what of the mountain of paper?

I have accounts here for this magazine and the shows I run and my own little access control empire. I’ve got files on the shelf, paper in boxes waiting to be entered, cheque books, stamps etc in a drawer.

At the show in March I chatted to Michael from Securikey about the problem of fire and burglary resistance and he showed me the Mini Vault Gold Fire Resistant range.

I arranged to get one and it was duly delivered at a manageable weight between two people of about 65Kg. I live in a bungalow so no stairs. I chose the size 2 as I can get a file inside. Check the website for full details –


The Mini Vault comes with:
• £4,000 overnight cash cover (£40,000 valuables)depending on insurers
• Double walled construction with fire resistant infill to DIN 4102
• 4mm Solid steel outer body and 2mm inner body
• 8mm anti-bludgeon door fitted with VdS Class 1 double bitted safe lock as standard
• Chrome plated bolt cups
• Adjustable jewellery shelves on the 2 larger models
• Motion sensitive Interior light included in all models
• Suitable for rear or floor fixing – Bolts supplied

I had the electronic lock as keys drive me mad no matter what you do there is always a key in the house someplace to open it.

I like the lock really easy to programme and you can set two numbers, I have written the main one in a secret place….

Two shelves and each will take a two ring binder or 4 comfortably, cheque books, paying in books, stamps on another and personal things like passports and Euros on another. It’s a great safe, sits here on the floor behind my chair so I can swing round and open remove or replace files etc without the ‘I will do that later syndrome’…later being in a week or two.

It’s easy to programme with two codes and also to register the serial number with Securikey.

This will not break the bank especially with your discounts and may just save the day – apart from anything else – it’s all in one big metal shoebox. Check the pictures, you cannot afford to be without one for your own security.

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