In an age when everything is online or on your mobile, it may not seem so important to keep hold of physical documents. But if you’re asking “how long should I keep my bank statements?”, maybe play it safe and take HMRC’s advice: keep hold of them for up to six years after they’re dated.
This might seem like a long time to have bits of paper lying around your house – or taking up space on your computer – but there are sensible reasons to keep your financial documents. If you run a business, for example, this is the amount of time in which the UK government may ask to check your tax records.
Meanwhile, having sound financial records means that you’re in a good position for any future disputes or queries. So, if you have the space, there is no harm in keeping your bank statements forever.
How long should I keep tax records?
The main reason for keeping your bank statements is for tax purposes. If you are a freelancer, a sole trader, or anyone else responsible for their own tax affairs, keeping all of your records relevant to tax for the amount of time recommended by HMRC is crucial.
That’s five years after the 31 January deadline of the given tax year for business records – which is the length of time in which HMRC can query your tax return. For personal tax records, 22 months after the 31 January deadline is sufficient.
That’s not to say that you need to keep them in their physical form, however. If your online banking provides you with paperless statements, that’s okay. However, if after a given period, they delete them from their system, make sure that you have a saved copy yourself.
How long to keep bank statements?
Those 22 months are the minimum time for which you should really keep your personal records. However, if you want to be sure, there is no upper limit for how long to keep bank statements. If you have the space to keep them safe, ordered, and out of the way... why not?
One of the advantages of keeping your bank statements for longer is that you may want to claim for something that was mis-sold to you in the past. Notorious cases, such as the PPI scandal, have no time limit – and there’s no saying when something similar might come to light again.
Keeping your bank statements is certainly life admin, but, in the long run, it can work in your favour.
How long should I keep utility bills?
Other documents, including utility bills and insurance documents, are also worth keeping hold of. You should keep your insurance policy documents for as long as the policy remains valid, whilst your utility bills will differ depending on the specifics.
Energy bills are worth keeping as suppliers can request back payments on estimated policies – if they realise that their estimations have been below what you have used. Meanwhile, if you are working from home, utility bills – including Wi-Fi, energy, and phone bills – can be relevant for tax purposes. Consequently, they should be kept for as long as you would keep all other tax records.
Do you need to shred old bank statements?
There is no legal obligation to shred your old bank statements, bills, or any other important documents. That said, if you are going to throw them away, shredding them – or mulching or burning them – is definitely for the best. They have deeply personal information on them, and it’s no fun to become the victim of identity fraud. So, invest in a cheap shredder, get it all chopped up, and recycle the whole lot.
Conclusion: How long do you need to keep bank statements?
So, in a nutshell, if you run a business or you’re self-employed, keep your tax records – including bank statements – for up to six years. For individuals who are employed or otherwise, 22 months after the end of the tax year is how long you should keep your bank statements.
Hopefully we’ve answered your question, “how long should I keep bank statements?” – we have plenty more helpful information in other Revolut blog posts, which you can check out below:
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