Shelf life of accounting documents, what you need to know

Legislation imposes a retention period for accounting documents to be respected. Thus, you have the obligation to archive the invoices of your customers and suppliers. Do you want to know the retention period of accounting documents according to the law? In this article, find out everything there is to know about this mandatory archiving period. From the different storage methods to the risks incurred in the event of non-compliance, including the tools required.

How do you keep your accounting documents?

Archiving accounting documents is a necessity for monitoring the activity of the company, as well as declarations to the tax authorities. Whether digital or paper version, the choice is yours.

By opting for a digital file backup, you avoid the risk of loss, but also, you guarantee the security of your documents. You have the option of choosing an online storage solution that will guarantee you, in addition to security, immediate and easy access to your documents.

Thus, you can choose an accounting software for your business, according to your needs and your budget. However, if you opt for a digital solution, be aware that you will have to respect certain obligations. In particular, you must ensure the storage conditions and guarantee the protection of your data. The objective is to ensure the integrity of the stored documents, so that they retain the reliability and value of the original documents.

What is the retention period for accounting documents according to the law?

The archiving period depends on the type of documents kept:

Customer and supplier invoices must be kept for 10 years after the closing date of the financial year.This is a minimum period during which your company must keep the accounting documents available to the administrative control services. If you deem it useful or necessary, it is possible to archive them for a period longer than these 10 years. – When it comes to real estate contracts, the retention period is relatively longer. The law requires them to be kept for a minimum of 30. – With regard to invoices obtained electronically, the retention period is 3 years after the closure of your accounts. Note also that an invoice received in digital format must be kept in this format for 3 years, after this period? It is possible to keep them in paper format for 10 years. – Commercial documents classified in the batch of accounting files are kept for a minimum of 5 years. – The tax documents must be kept for a period of 3 calendar years following that in respect of which the tax became payable. These include corporate and income tax returns, payroll tax, VAT returns. – The documents relating to social declarations have a minimum duration of 3 years, the social documents specific to commercial companies have a minimum period of 5 years. These include, among other things, the company's articles of association and registers.

Why should you keep your accounting documents?

Keeping invoices allows you to keep track of the transactions carried out, within the imposed deadline. This is useful for proving the conditions of a commercial exchange, in particular in the event of a dispute with a customer or a supplier.

It is also important to be able to produce documents, in the event of a request from the tax authorities during an unannounced inspection. Archiving the requested invoices shows the tax authorities that your company is fulfilling its obligations correctly.

Moreover, by keeping your documents, you keep the traceability of your declarations. One way to keep them safe is to opt for an accounting firm. Thus, you will benefit from a dedicated online accounting management space.

Similarly, access to your accounting documents will be easier, and you can find them at any time. We would like to specify that the retention period for accounting documents is determined by law and you have the obligation to respect it.

The penalties incurred

When you do not respect these retention periods or refuse to communicate them, you expose yourself to penalties. For example, if it is impossible for you to access your documents during an inspection, the tax authorities may interpret this breach as an offence, and proceed to an automatic taxation of your turnover.

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