Books and Records Retention

How long are you legally required to keep your tax records? Generally, record retention requirements are outlined in the Income Tax Act as follows:

  • Records must be kept for a minimum of 6 years from the end of the latest year to which they relate to.
  • If in electronic format, they must be kept in a electronically readable format (accessible and usable copy)

In some situations, you must retain your records for different periods of time. Below is a list of these situations, as well as the retention periods that apply to them:

  • Records concerning long-term acquisitions and disposal of properties, the share registry, other historical information that would have an effect on sale, liquidation or wind-up of the business – must be kept indefinitely
  • If income tax returns are filed late – records must be kept for 6 years after the date the return was filed
  • If you filed an objection or appeal, all necessary records until the latest of the dates: – the date the objection or appeal was resolved – the date for filing any further appeal has passed or – the 6 year record keeping period has passed
  • When a non-incorporated business or other organization ends – records must be kept for 6 years from the end of the tax year the business ended
  • When a corporation is dissolved, it must keep the following records for 2 years after the date of its dissolution: – all records and supporting documentation – all other records that corporations have to keep
  • When corporations amalgamate or merge to create a new corporation, the new corporation must keep business records of each of the amalgamated or merged corporations for 6 years from the end of the taxation year to which they relate
  • If you are a legal representative of a deceased taxpayer or trust, you can destroy the records after receiving clearance certificates to distribute the property under your control

Note: A person is not relieved of an of the record keeping, readability, retention, and access responsibilities because he or she contracts out the record keeping function to a third party such as a bookkeeper, accountant, service provider, or such other arrangements.