Storing invoices in PDF format - is it possible?

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An increasing number of entrepreneurs send their contractors electronic invoices instead of paper ones. However, is it legal to store invoices in PDF? Is it a sufficient accounting document? We answer in the article.

Storing invoices in PDF format and regulations

The rules for storing accounting documents, including electronic invoices, are specified in the Accounting Act of September 29, 1994, and specifically the provisions contained in chapter eight. Pursuant to Art. 71 books of accounts, accounting vouchers, inventory documents, as well as financial statements of units should be properly stored, protected against forbidden changes, dissemination, damage or destruction.

The taxpayer will also find regulations on this subject in the Ordinance of the Minister of Finance of 20 December 2012 on sending invoices in electronic form, rules for their storage and the procedure for making them available to the tax authority or tax inspection authority and in the so-called invoice regulation.

General rules for keeping accounting records

Accounting documentation should be stored in such a way that it can be freely used during a possible fiscal audit. The task of the entrepreneur is to ensure that all evidence and records are divided into accounting periods, clearly described, in order to avoid the hassle of finding them.

Due to the fact that when archiving documents, the entrepreneur must ensure their protection against dissemination and changes, it is important to place them in a place protected against unauthorized persons.

It should be noted that the company's accounting records do not have to be kept by its owner. An entrepreneur who uses the services of an accounting office that also offers the possibility of storing and archiving documents, may choose such a solution without any negative consequences. The only condition in such a situation is the notification to the head of the competent tax office that the documentation is stored outside the company (either during the registration of the business or up to the 15th day from the date of its issuance).

How long should accounting records be kept? The boundary in this case is the end of the tax limitation period. According to the regulations, this obligation ends five years after the end of the year in which the tax payment deadline expired. This is a significant facilitation, thanks to which the taxpayer does not have to check each invoice and declaration separately, until when it will have to be stored.

Example 1.

The taxpayer will close the 2017 tax year and will file the annual tax return for that year in 2018. Tax documentation related to 2017 will have to be kept until the end of 2023.

It is worth noting that the exception to the five-year archiving period is employee documentation (including payroll, payroll cards), because according to separate regulations, the entrepreneur is obliged to store this type of accounting documents for a period of 50 years.

What about archiving in electronic form?

Pursuant to Art. 73 sec. 2 of the Accounting Act, accounting books, accounting vouchers, copies of cash documents, inventory documents and financial statements as well as payrolls may be stored in electronic form in addition to the paper version, i.e. on DVD / CD, well-secured hard drives, but after meeting a few additional conditions. Such media must be placed in safes, cabinets or rooms to which only authorized persons have access.

In order to effectively protect data stored on digital data carriers, it is necessary to make regular backups (at least once a week). Also in this case, the entrepreneur must remember about the chronology, as well as the division into individual accounting periods and the need to guarantee access to devices with which it is possible to read data stored on individual carriers and make paper printouts, if necessary.

Archiving and storage of invoices in PDF format

Pursuant to the provisions of the e-invoice regulation, taxpayers can issue, send and store invoices in electronic form. Moreover, the right to archiving on digital data carriers also applies to invoices issued in electronic format, printed, and then scanned and saved on appropriate carriers.

As we read in the individual interpretation of the Director of the Tax Chamber in Warsaw of September 9, 2013 (reference number IPPP1 / 443-617 / 13-4 / JL): "There are no normative obstacles to the existence of a" mixed "system, and the requirement to store the invoice is to maintain its original form that guarantees the authenticity of the origin and integrity of the content, and this condition is also met by storing the invoice in electronic form, i.e. in the form of an electronic image, allowing for each time reconstruction paper form at the request of the tax authority, in its original form ".