The records you need to keep when you start out investing

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Maintaining records goes hand-in-hand with investing - making tax time easier and helping you track your portfolio's performance.

When you start out investing, it can seem as though you're being swamped by paperwork. So it's important to know which records you really need to stow away, and which are less important.

Let's take a look at the records that matter for the most popular type of investments.

what records to keep when you start investing

Cash

Your bank will report interest earned on savings accounts direct to the tax office. But it's still important to store statements for cash savings and term deposits.

Tax records must be held for at least five years, and if you close a savings account at some stage, it's a lot easier to respond any tax office queries if you have past statements on hand.

Rental property

Store details of the property's contract of sale, stamp duty receipts, invoices of legal fees/conveyancing, and any other upfront costs such as pre-purchase inspections. These all go towards the cost base of your investment property, which will shape future capital gains.

If you use a property manager, you'll receive regular statements showing rental income plus management fees and other outgoings such as repairs and maintenance organised by the manager. Store these carefully.

If you pay additional expenses out of your own pocket, for example, council rates, hold onto the receipts. The ATO app can be handy for recording miscellaneous property expenses on the go. It's free to download and requires iOS 10 or later or Android 6.0 or later.

Hold onto investment loan statements too. These will show the interest you claim on tax.

Shares and exchange-traded funds

Your online broker should provide end-of-financial-year statements that list all your?executed trades itemised and grouped by stock code. This makes it easy to work out capital gains, capital losses, and transaction costs.? You'll also receive a hard copy record from CHESS, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) sub-register system, each time you buy or sell a security. Many investors just bin these as they double up on information provided by your broker, however, snail mail CHESS records may soon become a thing of the past as the ASX is reportedly moving to an electronic system.

Details of dividend payments will be provided by a company's share registry. Hold onto these as they show the value of franking credits that can be claimed at tax time.

If you invest in ETFs, it's likely you'll receive two annual statements - one showing the value of your units plus cash distributions for the financial year, and a separate tax statement itemising the various components of any distributions. The tax statement is especially useful. The make-up of ETF distributions can be complex, so hand the statement to your tax agent, and once your tax return is completed, store the paperwork carefully.

Tax office allows records to be stored in digital format. Just be sure you have back-up copies, and hold onto the records for at least five years from the date each annual tax return is lodged.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.