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Should I retain bank statements hardcopies for tax or other official purposes? Or are scanned digital copies valid in such circumstances?

I am a salaried employee with no other income and fairly straightforward financial affairs - savings.

I was considering the future, e.g. for running a business or even a significant time abroad working and whether having a financial history in hard copy paper form was necessary. I would prefer to scan in such statements using my Auto Document Feeder (ADF) scanner and opt for paperless statements in future (read online).

Please advise. I'm located in the UK but I would guess an answer for all locales would be most suitable for this site.

Supplementary research:

This one looks like a good answer:

http://ask.metafilter.com/88281/Can-I-digitize-my-financial-records-for-Tax-purposes#1299796

The UK government says digital copies for tax purposes are acceptable:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/compliance/faqs.htm#8

https://www.gov.uk/keeping-your-pay-tax-records/overview

https://www.gov.uk/keeping-your-pay-tax-records/overview

Bank statements - should I retain hardcopies for tax or other official purposes (or keep digital scanned copies)?

My research on this forums - all of these are "how long"/"should I keep?" - not about scanning in and keeping just digital:

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=49163

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=3547797

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=2896482

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=326695

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=1055073

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3690609.stm

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Re: locale - actually the answer may well be specific to the UK, as record retention laws do tend to be place/time specific (which is still OK for this site) –  sdg Feb 23 '12 at 15:58
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Related: money.stackexchange.com/questions/3792/… - but not direct dup –  sdg Feb 23 '12 at 15:59
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+1 @sdg yes saw this and it's nearly the answer, but doesn't quiet confirm if there would be problems with digital only scanned copies, e.g. if people suspected forgery or fabrication. –  therobyouknow Feb 23 '12 at 16:01
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keep in mind that you have to periodically download the online statements, because most banks, utilities, or mutual fund companies will limit how far back they will let you access the statements –  mhoran_psprep Feb 23 '12 at 16:08
    
+1 yes I would agree. But do digital/electronic versions have the same legal status? ...Is my question. –  therobyouknow Feb 23 '12 at 16:13
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3 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

In the UK Directgov don't specify anything more than "records", which leads me to think that a digital copy might be acceptable.

With regards to bank statements, individuals (i.e. not self-employed, or owning a business) need to keep them for between 12 and 15 months after your tax return, depending on when you filed it.

Source: Record keeping (individuals and directors) - Directgov

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+1 @alexmuller thanks. –  therobyouknow Mar 7 '12 at 12:31
    
Accepted answer because it addresses my concerns and is relevant to UK. –  therobyouknow Mar 7 '12 at 12:32
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I am in the United States.

There is no need to keep the statements in any form forever. Once the bank gives you a 1099 stating how much interest you have earned, you don't need to keep them. If you only have them in electronic form, that is good enough for the IRS.

When you do need to show a bank statement, such as when applying for a loan, the loan company will be keeping a copy. It doesn't matter if it was a scan from the original, from a printed PDF, or if you printed it from your archives.

In the US they used send the original check back to the person who wrote it, so they could keep it for their records. Then many banks went to carbons, but if you paid extra they would send you the original. Now the bank that cashes the check scans the check and destroys the original. If you want a copy for your records it only exists as a scanned image.

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+1 @mhoran_psprep thanks this would be in line with my hunch. –  therobyouknow Feb 24 '12 at 9:22
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Digital records are fine, but record-keeping practices are important. Be consistent.

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+1 @duffbeer703 good point. –  therobyouknow Mar 7 '12 at 12:25
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