What are the record keeping requirements for my business?

May 9, 2023

Vital role of record keeping

Record keeping is an essential aspect of running a small business – it’s more than just organising paperwork. Your business record keeping requirements include maintaining accurate records, not just to meet your legal and taxation obligations, but because accurate and timely records are essential for managing your business effectively and making informed decisions.

Learn more about the importance of keeping precise business records and the potential consequences and impact on your business if you neglect this crucial responsibility.

For small business owners, maintaining comprehensive records is crucial for both managing the enterprise and generating the information required by law to be submitted to the ATO. Before setting up your business record keeping system, it’s highly recommended to consult a professional accountant for guidance to ensure your record-keeping system helps you to meet your business obligations.

Accuracy of financial records

Maintaining thorough records enables you to obtain a precise snapshot of your financial situation at any point in time. This clarity provides numerous advantages.

Enhanced decision-making

Accurate records empower you to make informed decisions regarding investments, expansions, hiring additional staff, or even adjusting your business strategies.

Streamlined tax preparation

With organised records, you can confirm the details in your income tax return, reducing the likelihood of errors or discrepancies that may trigger an audit.

Effective cash flow management

Knowing your business’s cash position helps you monitor and manage cash flow, which is crucial for the stability and growth of your enterprise.

Audit readiness

In the event of an audit by the ATO, accurate records will simplify the process, making it more efficient and less stressful.

Improved credit rating

Banks and other financial institutions may require your financial records when evaluating loan applications or credit extensions. Proper record keeping can help you secure better terms and access to necessary financing.

Simplified business sale

Should you decide to sell your business, having verifiable financial accounts will increase its value and streamline the due diligence process for potential buyers.

Theft and fraud prevention

Consistent record keeping can help you detect and deter theft or fraud within your business, ensuring that your assets are protected.

Increased likelihood of success

Accurate and organised records contribute to the overall success of your business by enabling you to make data-driven decisions and mitigate potential risks.

Australian income tax obligations

The Income Tax Assessment Act and regulations specify that businesses maintain sufficient records (in English) to calculate accessible income and allowable deductions. These records must be kept for five years after the Australian Taxation Office assessment they relate to has been issued. Exceptions apply, such as records related to capital gains tax, which must be kept for the lifetime of the investment.

Essential Records Checklist:

To provide a record of your transactions and enable these transactions to be traced and verified through the accounting system from start to finish, your business should maintain the following documents:

  • Sales invoices
  • Purchase orders
  • Receipts
  • Cash register transaction records
  • Banking records
  • Creditors’ invoices
  • Wage records
  • Tax documents
  • Cash books
  • Inventory records
  • Expense reports
  • Loan agreements

Penalties for inadequate record keeping

Failure to maintain proper records can lead to prosecution by the Australian Taxation Office. Penalties may include fines, penalties, or even imprisonment if you don’t maintain accurate records of your business transactions.

Action Plan:

Record keeping is a critical component of managing a small business effectively. Accurate records help you make informed decisions, comply with legal requirements, and plan for the future. 

To ensure your records are maintained appropriately, meet with your Pretium Solutions Accountant for advice tailored to your specific needs. By understanding the importance of proper record keeping and implementing a comprehensive system, you’ll be better equipped to run a successful, compliant, and financially stable business.

All businesses should invest in accounting software and consider using a bookkeeper to help manage your records more efficiently. This will enable you to focus on your core business activities, knowing that your financial records are accurate and up-to-date.

Thorough record keeping ensures compliance with legal requirements and provides a foundation for informed decision-making and long-term business success.


If you have questions about your record keeping obligations, or you would like to learn more about our accounting and bookkeeping services, please contact us.