Company documents - how to store them?


When running a business, remember to keep company documentation. Depending on the data it contains, it should be kept for 5 to 50 years. For this reason, the documentation can be divided into 3 groups. These are tax documents, ZUS documents and employee documents.

Tax documents

In accordance with the Accounting Act and Art. 86 of the Tax Ordinance, tax documentation should be kept for a period of 5 years, counting from the end of the calendar year in which the tax payment deadline expired. In other words, the documentation related to e.g. the personal income tax for 2010, the payment deadline of which is April 30, 2011, should be kept until the end of the 2016 calendar year.

Tax documents are all copies and originals of VAT invoices, documents related to tax collection and collection, tax books and related documents, as well as all copies of issued bills - this applies to taxpayers issuing invoices and those who are obliged to request them.

The same rules apply to VAT payers. They are also obliged to archive all originals and copies of invoices and corrective invoices, as well as duplicates of these documents until the tax liability expires.

Failure to archive documents or their improper storage may result in criminal liability under Art. 83 of the Fiscal Penal Code. In practice, it ends up with a fine of several dozen thousand zlotys.

ZUS documents

Relevant document storage regulations only partially define the rules for storing insurance documents. They also vary their storage period depending on the type of document. For this reason, three types of documents can be distinguished with different retention periods. These are application, settlement and payment documents.

application documents

After commencing business activity, regardless of its type, the entity that will be the contribution payer is required to register with ZUS. Registration takes place after filling in and submitting to ZUS the relevant ZUS ZFA or ZUS ZPA documents. The period for which these documents are to be kept has not been specified. It should be assumed that throughout the period of conducting business, the payer should keep a document confirming his entitlement to settle contributions for the employed persons. The contribution payer is obliged to provide, inter alia, at the request of the ZUS control inspector, a document registering him with ZUS as a contribution payer.

Billing documents

The contribution payer is obliged to keep the settlement declarations and personal monthly reports submitted to ZUS, as well as correcting documents sent to ZUS, declarations and reports for 10 years from the date of sending them to ZUS.During this period, the payer should keep both copies of documents submitted in paper form and documents submitted electronically.

Payment documents

Payment documents are proof of payment of contributions and the date of their payment. The obligation to store payment and billing documents is indirectly derived from the Tax Ordinance. Contributions to social insurance, health insurance, the Labor Fund and the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund are tax deductible costs. These documents, because they provide evidence of costs incurred and entitlement to a retirement pension, should be kept until tax liabilities expire or until the Social Insurance Institution confirms pension entitlements.

Employee documents

Employee documentation, including those relating to periods of employment and remuneration for work, shall be kept for 50 years after the insured terminates work with a given payer. On the basis of these documents, ZUS determines the basis for calculating the old-age or disability pension. If the company has been liquidated, then a specialized archive may take over the storage obligations. This obligation is regulated by the Act of 17 December 1998 on pensions and disability pensions from the Social Insurance Fund (Journal of Laws of 2004, No. 39, item 353, as amended), Article 125a para. 4.

Ways of storing documents and a milestone in accounting

Company documentation should be kept in its original form at the headquarters or branch of the economic entity. It is best divided into settlement periods so that you can find them easily and quickly. In addition, you should take care of the documentation of the adopted accounting principles, accounting books, accounting vouchers, inventory documents and financial statements. First of all, you need to protect them against damage or complete destruction. You should also protect them from unauthorized modification and unauthorized distribution.

This does not mean, however, that the documents must only be in paper form. Thanks to the amendment to the Accounting Act, every entrepreneur has the right to keep and store corporate documentation in electronic form. This gives you unlimited possibilities. First of all, easy and quick access to documents from anywhere in the world using the Internet. Additionally, time and money are saved. Even several thousand zlotys a year. This is an alternative way for modern companies for which efficient management is important.

Documentation in the form of an electronic record is much easier, which does not mean that it does not have to be carefully cared for. The computer on which the files with corporate documentation are saved must be protected against viruses and all kinds of threats related to data loss. Systematic backups of company documents must also be created on properly secured data carriers so that the recording on them survives the required archiving period. For this purpose, it is best to use licensed accounting software with a number of tested functions. Archiving of company documents can be made only on IT media of one-time permanent recording. The condition for using this method of storage is to have devices that enable the reproduction of evidence in the form of printouts.

What can be stored electronically

Pursuant to the Accounting Act (Article 73 (2)), an electronic entry may include books of accounts, accounting vouchers, copies of cash documents, inventory documents and financial statements. If the entire accounting of the company is kept on a computer using special accounting software, it can be stored and archived in this way. Cash documents, bank statements, accounting orders and tax declarations can also be transferred to IT data carriers after the approval of the financial statements. All company documents originally created in this form should also be stored in electronic form. That is, if the payer has registered him with ZUS as a payer in electronic form via the Internet, then he is obliged to keep the confirmation of this notification also in electronic form.