BMF (Bundesministerium der Finanzen - Federal Ministry of Finance)
What does BMF stand for?
The abbreviation BMF stands for Bundesministerium der Finanzen (Federal Ministry of Finance), which - as a ministry of Germany's Federal government - is headed by the Federal Minister of Finance. The BMF is also the publisher of the GDPdU (Principles on Data Access and Verifiability of Digital Documents) and the GoBS (Principles of DP-based Orderly Accounting / Bookkeeping Systems), which take effect regarding exclusive digital archiving of tax relevant documents. The term Audit-safety or Audit-proof Archiving also gets mentioned in this context.
Electronic document management records and archives, among other things, documents that are used as a basis for taxation, such as incoming and outgoing invoices. The Federal Ministry of Finance is now no longer of the opinion that such documents must necessarily be kept in the original, but is not closed to technological progress. It is therefore establishing rules on how tax-relevant documents must be stored digitally in order to be recognized as a regular document before the tax authorities. For companies that use electronic archiving, knowledge of these rules and compliance with them is important in order to be able to deduct input tax, for example. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each individual entrepreneur to adhere to the rules established by the BMF. In today's world, where business transactions and business initiation are also often carried out electronically, e.g. by e-mail, almost every entrepreneur is required to deal with the regulations of the Federal Ministry of Finance in order to avoid difficulties during tax audits. For example, archiving business e-mail traffic is mandatory, and not just since the GoBD came into force. Here, too, the retention period of 10 years applies - and in the original format (not as a printout!).
On the credit side, since 2011 there has been the option of simply sending invoices to the recipient by e-mail as a PDF (without signature) if the recipient agrees in principle. This can minimize the costs of paper, printing and postal delivery. For all these issues, a suitable document management system or digital archive will provide the right answers. The requirements of the BMF can be found in three main documents: The GoBD from 2014, the GDPdU from 2001 and the GoBS from 1995, which also describe the properties that an electronic storage of digital documents must have. This is also where the term audit security or audit-proof archiving comes in. (These aspects apply in germany and may not apply outside)