New guideline should make archiving of document easier

In recent years, companies have become increasingly interested in archiving accounting documents in electronic form.

Act no. 431/2002 Coll. on accounting, such a procedure allows, and since January 1, 2022, the transformation of the accounting record from paper to electronic form has been significantly simplified. However, provided that the credibility of the origin and the integrity of the content of the transformed document (e.g. invoice, cash register document) must be maintained (among other things).

Companies (from the point of view of the entity's accounting law) can decide in what form they will keep accounting records. However, when deciding to keep documents in electronic form, the relevant legislation must also be kept in mind. The Accounting Act in principle allows the archiving of electronic accounting records, while the submission of an accounting record in the original paper form is not required, unless special regulations provide otherwise.

Closely related legal regulations are also tax laws, especially Act no. 595/2003 Coll. on income tax and Act no. 222/2004 Coll. on value added tax. The Income Tax Act does not contain special provisions governing the retention of various tax documentation, but in some places it refers to the Accounting Act and the conditions set out therein for the archivation of documents. As regards the requirements for the treatment of invoices, the VAT Act contains similar requirements as the Accounting Act. From the issuance of the invoice until the end of the retention period, the authenticity of the origin, the integrity of the content and the legibility of the invoice must be ensured, while the VAT Act allows for electronic storage of invoices (subject to the above conditions). In the case of electronic storage, it is also necessary to keep in mind the fact that, for control purposes, the tax office must be allowed to access, download and use the electronically stored invoices.

Public administration bodies must also take into account the provisions of Act no. 357/2015 Coll. on financial control and audit and related methodological recommendation of the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic. According to the Financial Control and Audit Act, authorized persons have the right to request original documents when performing financial control. However, if special regulations (e.g. the Accounting Act, the VAT Act, the Archives and Registries Act) provide for the possibility of keeping documents in electronic form, the Financial Control and Audit Act also accepts this possibility.

In connection with the electronic storage of documents, it is also necessary to deal with Act no. 395/2002 Coll. law on archives and registries. This law has a relatively strict requirement with regard to the storage of documents in electronic form, as in principle it allows documents to be stored in electronic form only if they have been transformed from paper form by a guaranteed conversion.

Guaranteed conversion is a conversion in order to preserve the legal effects of the original document and its applicability to legal acts carried out in accordance with the guaranteed conversion procedure under the e-Government Act. The guaranteed conversion can only be performed by persons directly designated by the e-Government Act (eg public authority, lawyer, notary).

The need to transform documents by guaranteed conversion for the purposes of electronic archiving is related to the position of the originator of the registry. The originator of the registry, who is not obliged to draw up a registry procedure or a registry plan, is not subject to the transformation guaranteed. This is the so-called originators of the registry III. Categories.

Therefore, the question may arise whether business entities (e.g. limited liability company, joint stock company) must also keep paper originals for accounting and archiving purposes if they have not performed the transformation into electronic form by means of guaranteed conversion.

The Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic has issued an orientation aid on the obligation to draw up a registration procedure and a registration plan. Pursuant to this aid, natural and legal persons doing business on the basis of a trade license or other authorization pursuant to a special regulation are not obliged to draw up a registration procedure or a registration plan. Consequently, such persons (accounting units) are not obliged to keep the original registration record from which he made an electronic copy (e.g. by scanning in accordance with the Accounting Act) during the archiving period.

On the other hand, some businesses may be assessed as having activities that produce registration records that have a lasting documentary value and therefore must have at least a registration plan. It can be, for example, a business entity important for the region of its operation. The assessment of his position by the originator of the registry itself may therefore differ from the assessment by the relevant state archives. Thus, the originator of the registry may inadvertently destroy the original paper document without converting it into electronic form with a guaranteed conversion. It is therefore appropriate to ask the relevant archives in advance for an opinion on the assessment of the registrant's status.

The Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic has published on its website methodological guidelines concerning the storage and disposal of accounting records, while also covering the storage and disposal of documents converted from paper to electronic form and vice versa. This guideline provides a secure guide on how the registrar can convert accounting records from paper and electronic form and vice versa, for example by scanning, and does not need to perform a guaranteed conversion.

The guideline states that the originals of the accounting records from which the originator has made electronic copies (scans) may be proposed for disposal before the expiry of their storage period (immediately). The condition for the discarding of these documents is that in the submitted proposal for discarding, the originator is obliged to complete a statement that he has made reliable copies in accordance with the Accounting Act.

However, it should be pointed out that the methodological guideline is not legally binding. The specific situation in which an entrepreneur or organization may find itself may have its own specifics and therefore it is necessary to proceed in accordance with the relevant legislation in the first place.

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