Retention periods – Destruction – Accounting records – Tax consultants – Hagen – Holzwickede – Kamen – Lünen
Certain retention periods apply to accounting records (cf. Section 147 AO). If necessary, a provision can be made in the annual financial statements for the future costs of storing these documents.
Upon expiration of the statutory periods, the following documents in particular may be destroyed after December 31, 2017:
10-year retention period:
– Books, journals, accounts, etc., in which the last entry was made in 2007 and earlier
– Annual financial statements, management reports, opening balance sheets and inventories prepared in 2007 or earlier, and the documents required for their understanding
– Accounting documents (for example: invoices, notices, payment instructions, bank statements, payrolls, travel expense statements, entertainment receipts) from the year 2007
6-year retention period:
– Wage accounts and documents (certificates) for the wage account with entries from 2011 or earlier
– Other documents (for example: export or import documents, order books, bills of lading, expired loan agreements, insurance policies) and business letters from 2011 or earlier.
All documents that are relevant for understanding and verifying the record-keeping obligations must be retained; this applies both to documents in paper form and to all documents in the form of data, data sets and electronic documents that show that the regulatory requirements and their compliance have been implemented. Incoming electronic invoices, commercial and business letters or other significant documents must be kept unchanged in the format in which they were received (for example, in PDF or image format). They must not be deleted before the retention period expires.
Conversion to another format is only permissible if machine evaluability (by the tax authorities) is not restricted and no changes are made to the content. The same applies to self-generated documents, such as outgoing invoices.
If paper documents are converted into electronic documents (“scanned”), the procedure must be documented, which ensures in particular that the content is identical to the original and that it is legible and complete.
The retention periods also apply to the data relevant for tax and social security purposes in the company’s IT system (financial, asset and payroll accounting). During the retention period, access must be ….