Data storage and archiving

Every tax authority has its own stipulations on how long a document has to be stored and which documents are required. In Germany, an invoice must be held for 10 years. In the UK, documents have to be archived for six years. If you consider that a large company may be dealing with over 100,000 invoices every year, data storage and archiving becomes a major issue.

Effective data storage of electronic invoices is essential. You need to be able to quickly retrieve historical documents during tax audits, when dealing with payment disputes, negotiating new vendor contracts or conducting a cash performance analysis. In addition, EU regulation states that all supporting documentation must be stored with the original invoice.

Dealing with paper

Using paper-based invoices, the physical storage and retrieval process can be a challenge. The EU regulations that come into force in 2013 state that the invoice must be stored in its original format. So, e-invoicing becomes attractive as it is straightforward to place it in a data warehouse, as long as the other documents in the invoicing process are also electronic. Even where you scan a paper-based invoice, you will still have to retain the paper copy.

Where possible, the electronic invoices should be stored centrally, as long as the storage complies with the requirements of the tax authorities of the country where it was issued, so that it can be quickly and easily accessed for VAT and internal audits.

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