Emails have to be stored for tax audit

The latest edition of the Computerwoche magazine draws the attention to a weak point of many companies: Although emails with tax relevant contents, just like the relevant paper documents, have to be stored for 6 years (for data which refer directly to accounting entries or year-end financial statements this period is even ten years), there is not much attention given to the archiving of such emails. Only one third of all companies have set up clear rules for the storing of business emails, say the authors of the Computerwoche magazine.

The basis for archiving in accordance with legislation are the Principles on data access and the auditing of digitalized documents (GDPdU) which took effect on January 1st 2002. These principles say that the taxpayer is obliged to record and store data with tax relevant contents. Whereas the storing of business documents in paper form has become common practice adopted by any businessman, there is, however, a lack of awareness that increasingly more tax relevant data are contained in emails. If a company does not archive its emails and a compulsory tax assessment therefore has to be imposed, then this might cause additional damage. But even in the case where emails were stored, but in a form difficult to access, the taxpayer could lose money. This is because the GDPdU rule that the company must give easy data access to the auditor and pay the auditing costs. In such circumstances a subsequent expensive data preparation for the audit may be justified. Another important point is that such risks could have an effect on rating according to Basel II. GERMAN

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