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Retention of Records

When can records be securely destroyed?

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This question has probably been asked a million times! My understanding is records must be retained for 6 years plus the current year, but timings always confuse me.  We are clsoing an office and have clients files and clients records.  Some of the files are for dissolved companies.  Some clients have disappeared never to be seen again so havent collected their own primary documents/records.  Does the retention go on 5th April years or on the year end of the company? So for example, if the last accounts doen we for the year ending 30/06/2014, when could that file and records be let go?  For sole trade clients, if the last return was 05/04/15, when can that file be securely destroyed? I just dont want to get it wrong.  Thank you for any advice and help!

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By kdbr
18th Mar 2021 12:13

Your guidance on this area is now GDPR...

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Replying to kdbr:
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By paul.benny
23rd Mar 2021 11:22

With respect, it isn't. GDPR covers personal data of natural persons - so, for example, company bank statements are out of scope unless they are addressed to a named individual.

That aside, the retention requirement under GDPR is essentially not to keep data longer than necessary. For speculative job applications, the necessary period may be measured in minutes. For pensions, it may be decades.

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By kdbr
18th Mar 2021 12:17

And don't forget the computerised records.

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By suepg
18th Mar 2021 13:32

I was of the understanding that the 5 years (to 5th April) rule applied only to the client and we, in practice had to retain our records for 10 years. Am I incorrect?

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By Calculatorboy
18th Mar 2021 16:01

With regard to client prime records, invoices, bank statements etc, you need to address in engagement letter ie if not collected will be destroyed in 6 years . Otherwise if you destroy them I think you technically will have a problem .

My terms state I retain working papers even though technically belong to client (that is for accounts prep , audit is different) and destroy after 6.

Yes there are longer limitations periods , but if you use 6 +1 ,plus pi cover , I think we are generally covered

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Brand and strategic digital marketing consultancy
By philippa101
23rd Mar 2021 11:05

Can I point you to Chris Burn of CSRB who will be happy to advise. Here is his Linkedin profile

https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-burn-7245ab70/

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Replying to philippa101:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
23rd Mar 2021 11:23

No, thanks

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Replying to philippa101:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
23rd Mar 2021 14:28

philippa101 wrote:

Can I point you to Chris Burn of CSRB who will be happy to advise. Here is his Linkedin profile

https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-burn-7245ab70/

A better plan would be to direct him here. He can then provide general guidance if he wishes to. Simply directing people to someone off-site, so no knowledge is shared, is very much against the spirit of this forum.
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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
23rd Mar 2021 11:29

You do have to distinguish between non-live records in the sense that they are:
- your firms records
- your clients records (and therefore their property)
- what types of record they are, for instance contracts executed as a deed have a 12 year statute of limitations

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By Rgab1947
23rd Mar 2021 12:04

Being completely paperless it becomes a bit irrelevant. I don't keep paper. Working copies (never original - maybe a Dropbox item or a own use printout) go into the shredder when not needed. Rest all digital.

I keep for 6 years+1 for HMRC purposes only. Then push the delete button.

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Replying to Rgab1947:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
23rd Mar 2021 13:10

Pressing the delete button may not actually delete it though, you also need to (if using a windows PC) empty the recycle bin and if using cloud storage sweep each PC for temporary files and local copies, then there's email attachments .............

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By Hugo Fair
23rd Mar 2021 12:51

Why has no-one pointed out that there's no single, over-arching set of rules ... and therefore no simple answer to OP's question.

There are rules imposed by various govt operational areas (like PAYE), by accounting standards, by different national govts, by GDPR, etc. These will not give you a single answer unless you are responsible for a very simple set of records.

GDPR doesn't set specific shelf-lives - it allows the holder of data to set their own processes (which their retention rules need to be seen to support). So different sub-sets of data can have very different retention periods (for instance records of pension contributions may need to be held for much longer than other payroll data).

And OP refers to desire to securely destroy files, but appears to be talking only about physical paper files. Any 'files' that need to be retained can be digitised - and then have their paper 'source' versions securely destroyed without any problem.

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Morph
By kevinringer
24th Mar 2021 13:22

Money Laundering is 5 years from disengagement https://www.gov.uk/guidance/money-laundering-regulations-your-responsibi....

SA if 5 years from the SA deadline (for actual filing date of later) for the last year filed https://www.gov.uk/self-employed-records/how-long-to-keep-your-records.

VAT is 6 years https://www.gov.uk/vat-record-keeping.

Private companies 3 years from when they were made https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/46/section/388.

Maybe others can add to the list. This has been a helpful exercise for me because I was about to destroy a pile of stuff for ex-clients that I now realise I need to keep.

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