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How to keep business records, a checklist

This information is provided by Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK | Tax and Customs Administration, Belastingdienst

Keeping your business records gives you insight in the financial position of your company. If you want to apply for tax benefits, you have to comply with the hours criterion. You can do the administration yourself or outsource it. Read the 5 steps that help you to keep your business records.

1. Keep the required records

All your company details, both on paper and digital, are part of your records. Examples are:

  • cash administration (including draft notes) and receipts
  • financial notes, such as the purchase and sales ledger
  • interim check calculations
  • received invoices and copies of sent invoices
  • bank statements
  • contracts, agreements, and other deals
  • agendas and other appointment books
  • correspondence
  • software and data files

2. Keep your records for seven years

You are legally required to keep your administration for seven years. You can make agreements with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) about shorter terms.

You have to keep these documents for seven years:

  • debtor and creditor administration: unpaid invoices of clients and suppliers
  • administration of purchases and sales: all invoices of purchases and sales
  • general ledger administration: all financial transactions such as received payments
  • inventory administration: your entire inventory and its’ value (if you purchase and sell goods)
  • cash administration: all receipts of products that you have bought or sold with cash

You must keep data on real estate and rights on real estate for ten years. Examples of real estate are business premises, storage facilities, and land. When you sell your goods or services inside the EU to clients who do not file taxes and you have chosen for the One Stop Shop (éénloketsysteem) (in Dutch), then the term is ten years as well.

3. Make agreements on how to keep your records

You can make agreements with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration on how to keep your administration (digitally or on paper). And in how much detail (for example daily transaction lists, counting strips of the cash register). The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration documents these agreements in writing.

4. Pay attention to the hours criterion

You do not have to keep a record of your hours. But if you want to receive tax benefits, you need to prove you are eligible to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. For example, for the private business ownership allowance or the tax relief for new companies scheme. You need to show that you comply with the hours criterion:

  • You work in your business for at least 1225 hours per calendar year. This also applies if you start or end the company during the year.
  • You devote more time to your business than to other work. For example, when you also have a job. Did you not have a business for one or more years during the past five years? Then this criterion does not apply.

5. Do it yourself or outsource it?

You can do the administration yourself or outsource it to a bookkeeper or accountant.

Difference accountant and bookkeeper

An accountant usually works for larger companies, but also for SMEs and self-employed professionals (zzp’ers). An accountant is obligated to take out liability insurance and is subject to disciplinary law. If you have more than 50 employees, a turnover of €12 million euros, and €6 million euros as balance sheet total, you must hire an accountant.

The SMEs and zzp’ers that are not included in this group can choose to hire an administrative office. This independent profession (in Dutch) has 2 types:

1. Offices that are members of a trade association

These offices have a mandatory liability insurance, comply with training requirements, follow compulsory retraining, and have terms of delivery and payment. They help entrepreneurs with business administration and give advice.

2. Offices that are not members of a trade association

These offices have no mandatory liability insurance. They decide for themselves whether they only help with the records or if they also give advice.

Video: entrepreneur about his records Watch the kvk video entrepreneur about his administration (For English subtitles, click the settings wheel, click ondertiteling and select English)

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This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVKTax and Customs Administration, Belastingdienst
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