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INCOMING ELECTRONIC INVOICES AND ARCHIVING METHODS

I. Electronic archiving solutions
Pursuant to §257, paragraph 3 of the German Commercial Code, certain original documents subject to mandatory retention can also be stored on image carriers or other data media, provided that the method corresponds to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
Electronic archiving is seeing increasing use in enterprises, since it helps to achieve more efficient and secure processing. The benefits include

  • Simultaneous access to the documents by several persons
  • Fast access
  • Removing the need for manual archive searches
  • Independence of location (use from any PC or workstation)
  • Independence from opening times and staff availability (compared to a conventional archive)
  • Automatic authorisation checks (only permissible documents are issued)
  • Mechanical integrity checking of documents

The generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) require an appropriate control system for the elements used:

  • IT infrastructure (where applicable to archiving),
  • IT applications deployed, and
  • IT-based archiving processes.

In addition to the provisions of commercial law, the provisions cited in the circular from the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) dated 16 July 2001 on the Grundsätzen zum Datenzugriff und zur Prüfbarkeit digitaler Unterlagen (GDPdU) (Principles of data access and auditing of digital documents) (e.g. deviating from requirements under commercial law), tax-relevant documents must be kept in their original form (original data) and if converted to a proprietary format (in-house format) be archived electronically in the converted form, and the regulations of the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG) and other legal requirements must be observed in electronic archiving (e.g. provisions on the use of archived documents as evidence in civil, criminal or administrative proceedings). Furthermore, where needed, requirements from industry-specific legislation (e.g. §25a, paragraph 1, no. 5 of the Kreditwesengesetz (KWG) (German banking act) on the scope of archiving or §30a of the AO zum Schutz von Bankkunden (Fiscal Code on the protection of bank customers) must be considered.

The control system includes rules for managing of the use of archiving processes in the enterprise (internal control system) and rules for monitoring compliance with these rules (internal monitoring system).

We offer our clients support in selecting and implementing electronic archiving methods to ensure compliance with the complex regulatory requirements and mitigation of the resulting risks.