By law, you have to keep records when any of these apply:
- you are carrying on a business in Canada
- you are engaged in a commercial activity in Canada
- you are responsible for collecting tax or other amounts
- you have to file a Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) return
Records are your accounting and other financial information documents kept in an organized way.
The information that your records must contain depends on your situation and on factors such as:
- your business type
- the format you keep your records in (paper, electronic or a combination of the two)
- if you have converted any paper records or supporting documents into an electronic version
- if you are involved in e-commerce (for information about e-commerce, go to Conducting business on the Internet);
- if you are a GST/HST registrant
- if you are an employer
Your records have to give enough details to determine your entitlements and tax obligations. They also have to be supported by documents.
Your records could be kept in English, French, or a combination of these two languages.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has detailed information for situations where your records, including those of your business, have been affected by a disaster. For more information, including what qualifies as a disaster, go to Disasters and disaster relief.
If you need help after reading the topics below on keeping records, call 1-800-959-5525.
Guide RC4409, Keeping Records, is no longer being made available by the CRA.
- What are records and supporting documents, and who has to keep them?
- Your responsibilities and the requirements associated with records the law requires you to keep
Your responsibilities for your records; the requirements that all records must satisfy; the additional requirements that electronic records must satisfy, the information you must keep on Internet-based transactions.
- GST/HST and payroll records
Information that GST/HST registrants and employers must keep in their records.
- Specific information that certain entities have to keep
Information that corporations, registered charities, registered Canadian amateur athletic associations, other qualified donees, registered agents for registered political parties, official agents for candidates in a federal election and trusts must keep in their records.
- Acceptable format, imaging paper documents, and backing up electronic files
Paper and electronic formats; converting paper documents into electronic files; reproducing or destroying paper documents after imaging; making back up copies of your electronic files.
- Where and how long to keep your records, and requesting to destroy them early
- Review of business systems and keeping audit trails of business transactions
What the CRA verifies when it reviews business systems, and keeping information on the sequence of events of business transactions
Forms and publications
- Information Circular IC05-1, Electronic Record Keeping
- Information Circular IC78-10, Books and Records Retention/Destruction
- Video series: Reporting Business Income and Expenses
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