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How long must you keep business records?

24 May 2017

By Bryan Wilcox, CEO of the Real Estate Employers’ Federation (REEF)

A common question raised by real estate principals is the length of time which business documents must be retained for.

This depends on what type of business document they are. Most records can be categorised into four main areas. 

1. Employment records 

Employment records are regulated by various acts, including the Fair Work Act 2009. The records include those relating to an employees’ employment status, hours worked, salary/wages, leave and superannuation and must be kept for seven years.

2. Industry specific records

Section 104 of the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 requires a Licensee to retain a record containing particular transactions for three years after it is made.

3. Tax records

Tax records are regulated by various acts, depending on the form of taxation involved. The main categories are:

  • Income tax – retain for five years from the last date on which the records were prepared or the relevant transaction was completed
  • Payroll tax – retain for five years from the last date on which the records were prepared or the relevant transaction was completed
  • Capital Gains Tax – retain for the duration of ownership of the asset, plus for five years from the end of the accounting period in which disposal occurred
  • Fringe Benefits Tax – retain for five years from the last date on which the records were prepared or the relevant transaction was completed.

4. Company records

Company records are regulated by various acts, including the Corporations Act 2001. 

The main categories are:

  • Registers and minute books, which must be retained for five years from the date of the last entry
  • Accounting records, which must be retained for seven years from completion of the transaction or conclusion of the accounting period during which the transaction took place.