What is the best way to organise my company records?

If you are running a paper-based office, here are some guidelines for keeping your company records in good shape over the life-span of your company. This ensures that you are ready for every eventuality, such as accounting deadlines or legal disputes.
Office diary

An office diary in which you record specific events each day is essential for keeping your company affairs organised.

This might include details of cash expenditure for which you do not have a receipt, non-routine journeys and costs involved, and also records of any business mileage and mileage to be charged to clients.

Use your diary to keep a note of any unusual events (particularly any with future legal implications) and also to record details of the nature of your assignments which may help in determining your status under IR35 (see 1.4).

You would be well advised to keep your office diary for several years as part of your company records. It could be invaluable if you ever need evidence for HMRC, or for a legal dispute. 

Filing system

As well as an office diary, we recommend that you maintain two lever arch files for each year of accounts and a box file for permanent documents.

If you are using the Competex FreeAgent online bookkeeping software for recording your transactions, you will be able to keep copies of all of your sales and purchase invoices and receipts, VAT returns, dividend documentation and downloaded bank statements within the software, and HMRC will accept copies of these electronic records as documentary evidence. However, the paper-based system outlined below will ensure you stay organised and do not get caught out at the time of producing information for accounting deadlines.

Lever arch file No 1

This should have an A-Z index and be used for filing your purchase invoices for the accounting year. We suggest that invoices are filed strictly alphabetically by supplier behind each tab, and that invoices from the same supplier rise up the file in date order. As you pay invoices, mark them as ‘paid’ and write on each one the date of payment.

Lever arch file No 2

This second file should have tabbed dividers and be used for hard copies of all the other papers that relate to the accounting year as shown below. Note that, if you submit your completed quarterly excel returns to us electronically, you still need to keep a copy of your VAT returns (VAT 100) and schedules under sections 1 to 9 below.

  • Section 1 – Record of business mileage
  • Section 2 – Sales invoice copies
  • Section 3 – Credit card statement summary
  • Section 4 – Record of entertainment expenses
  • Section 5 Personal expenses summaries and ‘detailed expenses claims’
  • Section 6 Invoice listings
  • Section 7 Cash book and bank statements
  • Section 8 Record of fixed asset purchases
  • Section 9 VAT summaries and copy VAT returns
The box file

This should be used to store the more permanent papers which cover several years, or even the entire life of the company. These include: 

  1. Copies of the Certificate of Incorporation and Memorandum and Articles of Association
  2. Copy of the Statutory Books and Share Certificates
  3. Copies of board minutes
  4. Copies of the bank mandate
  5. Cheque books and paying in books
  6. The Certificate of Registration for VAT
  7. VAT returns awaiting completion
  8. Payroll records
  9. Legal papers
  10. Employment contracts
  11. Insurance details
  12. Finance agreements
Amy FowlerWhat is the best way to organise my company records?