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How should I record my business transactions?

A good recordkeeping system includes a summary of your business transactions.  Business transactions are ordinarily summarized in books called journals and ledgers.  You can buy them at your local stationery or office supply store. 

A journal is a book where you record each business transaction shown on your supporting documents.  You may have to keep separate journals for transactions that occur frequently.

A ledger is a book that contains the totals from all of your journals.  It is organized into different accounts. 

Whether you keep journals and ledgers and how you keep them depends on the type of business you are in.  For example, a recordkeeping system for a small business might include the following items. 

  • Business checkbook
  • Daily summary of cash receipts
  • Monthly summary of cash receipts
  • Check disbursements journal
  • Depreciation worksheet
  • Employee compensation records

Note: The system you use to record business transactions will be more effective as you follow good recordkeeping practices.  For example, record expenses when they occur, and identify the source of recorded receipts.  Generally, it is best to record transactions on a daily basis. For additional information on how to record your business transactions, refer to Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records.


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 05-Sep-2014