What are records and who has to keep them?

On this page, you will find information on the following:

What are records?

Records are organized accounting and financial documents that summarize your transactions and include the documents to support these transactions. These documents include:

  • ledgers
  • journals
  • books
  • charts
  • tables
  • financial statements
  • statements of accounts
  • income tax returns
  • goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns
  • excise tax returns
  • sales invoices
  • purchase receipts
  • vouchers
  • contracts
  • guarantees
  • bank deposit slips
  • bank statements
  • cancelled cheques
  • cash register slips
  • credit card receipts
  • work orders
  • delivery slips
  • working papers
  • logbooks
  • emails
  • all correspondence that support your transactions

Who has to keep records?

Here is the list of those who by law have to keep records:

  • persons who have to file a tax return
  • persons carrying on a business or engaged in commercial activity
  • persons who have to pay or collect taxes or other amounts such as payroll deductions and softwood lumber products export charge
  • persons who have to file a goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) return
  • persons who apply for GST/HST refunds or rebates
  • payroll service providers
  • third-party record keepers
  • trusts
  • non-profit organizations
  • registered agents of registered political parties
  • official agents for candidates in a federal election
  • universities
  • colleges
  • municipal corporations
  • hospitals
  • school authorities
  • qualified donees such as:
    • registered charities
    • registered Canadian amateur athletic associations
    • registered housing corporations resident in Canada that are exempt from tax under Part 1 of the Income Tax Act because of paragraph 149(1)(i)
    • registered municipalities in Canada
    • registered municipal or public bodies performing a function of government of Canada
    • registered university outside Canada, the student body of which ordinarily includes students from Canada
    • registered charitable organizations outside Canada to which Her Majesty in right of Canada has made a gift


Holding companies and corporations that are inactive still have to keep records.

You have to keep separate records for each of the above situations.

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