How Long Should You Keep Your Tax Records

Generally, you must keep your written evidence for five years from the date the notice of assessment is sent to you, or:
  • if you have claimed a deduction for decline in value (formerly known as depreciation), five years from the date of your last claim for decline in value
  • if you acquire or dispose of an asset, five years after it is certain that no capital gains tax (CGT) event can happen for which those records will be needed to work out a capital gain or loss, and
  • if you are in dispute with the Tax Office, the later of five years from the date you lodge your return or when the dispute is finalised.

Shorter period of retention for some taxpayers (2000-01 to 2003-04 income years)

If you were a shorter period of review taxpayer for any of the income years between 1 July 2000 and 30 June 2004 inclusive, you only need to keep certain tax records relating to the year(s) that you were a shorter period of review taxpayer for two years
  • after the due date for payment if you had a taxable notice of assessment, or
  • from the 30th day after you received your notice advising you that no tax is payable.

You were eligible for a two-year shorter period of review if you were an Australian resident and had simple tax affairs. It is your responsibility to determine if you were eligible for a shorter period of review. Eligibility is dependent on your circumstances each tax year, so your status may have varied from year to year. The Tax Office will have advised you on your notice of assessment (NOA) that you 'may qualify as a shorter period of review taxpayer'.

Shorter period of retention for some records (2004-05 and later years).

The Commissioner has made a determination SDR 2006/1 that some records for 2004-05 and later income years, held by individuals with simple tax affairs, need only be retained for two years. The records that are covered by this determination are:
  • a family agreement, to the extent that it is relevant to 2004-05 or a later income year
  • a copy of a payment summary given to an individual in the financial year commencing 1 July 2004 and later income years, and
  • a taxpayer declaration that is made on or after 1 April 2004, for returns and documents lodged with the Tax Office by a tax agent on a taxpayer's behalf, authorising the agent to lodge and declaring that the information supplied is correct (for example, the taxpayer declaration on a tax agent lodged tax return).

What are simple tax affairs?

You are classed as having simple tax affairs in an income year if you are an individual taxpayer and:
1. your income consists only of wages paid by a financial institution or government body, and/or
from an Australian company that is listed on the ASX

2. you claim deductions only for your tax affairs fees and charges, including taxes and duties, and/or gifts of money and donations of money are not a non-resident of Australia for the year of income to a foreign tax credit to adjust your taxable income because of payments to or from your associates receipt of a capital gain or loss that must be taken into account in your tax return, or receipt of foreign employment income, or income from service on an approved overseas project that is exempt from tax in Australia.

From ATO

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