Many people may know that they have to keep their self-employed business records for a number of years, in case HMRC ask to see them.

The actual rules are five years after the filing deadline – the current tax return for the year to 5th April 2012 must be filed by 31st January 2013, so records must be kept until 31 January 2018.

This can result in large amounts of paperwork needing to be stored, but one thing that people may have missed is that business records can now be stored electronically provided several requirements are met:

1) All the information must be captured (both the front and back of invoices and receipts.)

2) The information must be saved in a readable format (if you are scanning, many scanners save to PDF files.)

3) You must keep a back-up.

There are even services now that will scan your receipts, themselves or via an app/email and output the data in a file that can be imported into accounting systems. As long as the requirements above are met then you could find that saving space also saves you time, plus you have the benefit that electronic files can be searched much more easily if you are looking for an elusive receipt.