In summer 2019, the Federal Ministry of Finance revised the "Grundsätze zur ordnungsmäßigen Führung und Aufbewahrung von Büchern, Aufzeichnungen und Unterlagen in elektronischer Form sowie zum Datenzugriff" (GoBD) (Principles for the proper management and storage of books, records and documents in electronic form and for data access). The name is a bit bulky, the regulations are sometimes complex - but enormously important for accounting. We present the most important information at a glance.
The idea behind the principles first published in 2014 was a simple one at the beginning. The GoBDs are intended to make it easier for the auditor to understand his company's bookkeeping more easily. The time factor should also play a role, which is the case if the bookkeeping has been prepared conscientiously and if it complies with the principles.
The four major cornerstones of the GoBD
To better understand the meaning behind GoBD, it is helpful to keep in mind the four basic cornerstones. These are:
All required documents and records should be complete and accurate and not be altered by a third party.
An external specialist who is familiar with the subject matter must be able to retrace the accounting of the company.
All data used for tax purposes have to be stored.
All entries and postings in connection with business incidents must be documented without exception.
Complying with the GoBD might be a little difficult and time-consuming at the beginning - but the benefits will become evident at the next visit of the tax auditor.
The revised version of the GoBD - the most important changes
The changes are not even particularly extensive, but they are decisive for digital bookkeeping and therefore (a) positive (progress) for accountants. Up to now, it was not allowed to capture receipts visually, only the digitization via scanner was permitted, but that has changed with the new version of the GoBD. Now it is possible to digitize receipts via smartphone. Therefore, business travelers are able to already scan all the receipts with the mobile app on the go and send them to the accounting department afterwards.
As soon as it is digitized, the original paper document can be thrown away - unless they have to be kept in the original in accordance with non-tax or tax regulations.
For companies, it is now easier to process their travel expenses digitally and in compliance with the GoBD.
What to do with the original receipts?
As stated earlier, the new GoBD allows the original paper documents to be: Either thrown away or stored.
But keep in mind: since January 2018, another procedural documentation stipulates that digital documents should not be changed in any way in the process of digitizing the receipts to storing it in the books of the company. Luckily, you are able to work in compliance with the GoBD with the Circula App. Due to the integrated process documentation the original documents are no longer needed.
Otherwise, the electronic receipts cannot be recognised for VAT purposes by the tax office.
It is important that one is able to present the digital documents in a comprehensible manner to the tax audits. If all the documents are archived in compliance with the GoBD from the beginning,one has nothing to fear from the tax auditor or the tax office.