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Principles on Data Access and Verifiability of Digital Documents (GDPdU)

The Principles on Data Access and Verifiability of Digital Documents (GDPdU) is a decree by the tax authority from 2001. It regulates which access possibilities the tax authorities have to have on DP systems and in what form tax-relevant data has to be stored. In this context there is also talk of another administrative provision, the Principles of DP-based Orderly Accounting / Bookkeeping Systems (GoBS).

The essential part of the GDPdU refers to original digital data from Financial Accountancy systems. These have to be kept in the uncompressed original form for the duration of the retention period (currently 10 years). Electronic Document Management hardly plays a part in this context. In practice, the ERP and Administrative Accounting systems have to be kept executable on at least one computer - even with a change of system - to keep original data evaluable.

The relevance of the GDPdU for electronic archives and Document Management Systems become important, when original non-digital documents - usually paper receipts - are only available in electronic form; the original receipts having been destroyed. In this case the basic archiving system must be audit-proof. Evidence needs to be given by a Procedural Documentation according to GDPdU on demand.

Special media or storage procedures are not stipulated by the GDPdU. Certificates, that prove a system to be GDPdU-conform, are not accepted by tax auhorities, no matter who it was issued by. There is only the Procedural Documentation which is stipulated according to the GDPdU. This has to be produced if paper documents are destroyed after scanning.

bitfarm-Archiv Document Management fullfils the requirements of the GDPdU (and the GoBS) and proves this with a technical procedural documentation. This still needs to be supplemented by an organisational part (practical procedure of archiving in the company), in order to prove complete GDPdU-conformity.

The purpose of GDPdU is to align the audit methods of the tax authorities with modern accounting techniques by regulating access to tax-relevant information stored at a company. In addition, the new digital audit method enables more timely and streamlined external audits.

Article 108 (7) of the Basic Law, which empowers the Federal Government to adopt general administrative regulations under tax law, serves as the legal foundation for the principles on data availability and auditability of digital documents. The administrative rule must be approved by the Bundesrat if tax administration is the duty of the federal states or municipalities.

The company must offer all essential tools (software and hardware) and instruct the auditor for "read-only access" in the case of direct data access. An access authorization must be granted to the auditor, allowing him to examine all tax-related information (GDPdU Section 1 Subsection 2a).

If indirect access is chosen, the company must provide the auditor with staff who are experienced with the DP system in addition to providing software and hardware. The amount of help that a firm can fairly be expected to offer is determined by the firm's operational circumstances, such as its size or number of employees. When using indirect access to information, the corporation bears the costs of evaluation.

If your company is subjected to a tax audit, you must prepare a GDPdU export of your accounting data. This export must be in a specific format so that the auditor's audit program can read and evaluate the GDPdU data. You give the auditor this GDPdU data on a data carrier (such as a USB stick) or via a download link. GDPdU data should preferably be in a specific format so that the accounting data can be easily input by the auditor. This GDPdU format, for example, has been specified by audicon and may be downloaded here. Your accounting software must create an XML file that defines the format of your accounting data if the data does not conform with this standard.

Which resources is bitfarm-Archiv offering regarding this topic?

  • GDPdU.pdf - Grundsätze zum Datenzugriff und zur Prüfbarkeit digitaler Unterlagen (Principles on Data Access and Verifiability of Digital Documents), GDPdU (2001)
  • Questions and answers from the Federal Ministry of Finance on the GDPdU
  • GoBS.pdf – Regulation of the tax authorities: Grundsätze ordnungsmäßiger DP-gestützter Buchführungssysteme (Principles of DP-based Orderly Accounting / Bookkeeping Systems), GoBS (1995)

Summing up, the keypoints for the GDPdU are:

  • Principles of data access and auditability of digital documents
  • A supplement to the "Generally Accepted Accounting Principles" (GoB)
  • No booking without receipt
  • Software / cash register must have a manual

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