GoBD Compliance

GoBD Compliance
The GoBD is a tax regulation issued on 14 November 2014 and stands for principles for the proper keeping and storage of books, records and documents in electronic form as well as for data access (Grundsätze zur ordnungsmäßigen Führung und Aufbewahrung von Büchern, Aufzeichnungen und Unterlagen in elektronischer Form sowie zum Datenzugriff in German). What sounds like a complicated word monster is in reality easier for companies to implement than the name of the administrative regulation suggests. The originator of these principles is the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF). It is to be understood as a reaction to the accounting reality in today’s companies. Electronic accounting is, after all, today’s lived digitalisation in the finance departments of German companies. Nevertheless, the aforementioned principles are not a matter of course and are elementary and binding for every taxpayer in this country.
With its introduction, the GoBD replaced the GDPdU (principles of data access and verifiability of digital documents, Grundsätze zum Datenzugriff und zur Prüfbarkeit digitaler Unterlagen in German) which came into force in 2002. However, its contents were by no means rendered obsolete, but were merged with its successor.

GoBD Compliance – what do you really need to know?

Certified GoBD compliance | billwerk
 In principle, GoBD compliance affects every taxpayer in Germany – and especially companies.

While paper invoices are becoming more and more a thing of the past, e-invoices are increasingly the norm – for operators of a subscription business anyway. The requirements for GoBD compliance are not really comprehensible for many entrepreneurs at first glance. However, a closer look shows that many requirements are quite comprehensible. Digitised invoice documents, for example, must:

  • be comprehensible and verifiable
  • be recorded clearly and consecutively
  • be complete
  • be correct
  • entered in company’s books on time
  • be sorted
  • and be unchangeable

While most of the points mentioned speak for themselves, we would like to single out two points as they have massive implications for GoBD compliance.


GoBD Compliant – Timely booking

You must not take forever to enter receipts. Non-cash bookings must be entered within ten days, while cash bookings must even be entered daily. Periodic bookings, on the other hand, must be entered at the end of the month.

GoBD Compliance in archiving

GoBD-compliant invoices must be stored in an audit-proof manner. This means that they must not be alterable and they must be forgery-proof. In concrete terms, this means that every digital invoice (e.g. a PDF, a XRechnung or a ZUGFeRD invoice) must not be able to be overwritten and must be stored for at least ten years. At the same time, it must be organised in such a way that it can be found within the shortest possible time (within three weeks at the most) and made accessible to the tax or auditor. Here, a distinction is made between direct data access (i.e. direct access to the accounting system), indirect data access (the taxpayer first evaluates and grants the auditor reading rights) and data carrier transfer (e.g. on a CD or DVD). The latter variant is actually still the most frequently used access method by the tax authorities. 

The advantages of GoBD compliance

 The advantages of electronic accounting and audit-proof archiving are obvious. Not only is archiving in paper form no longer necessary, but the storage of business e-mails is no longer compulsory if the company has opted for systematic electronic invoicing – unless ancillary agreements have been made via e-mail that are not evident from the invoice. In this case, the e-mails must be kept in electronic form. Companies that use GoBD-compliant data processing systems are also on the safe side with regard to the entire procedural documentation, the General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO) and the Accounting Directive Implementation Act (BilRUG in German).

 GoBD compliance for the subscription economy

The traceability and order of receipts is essential for every company. In the subscription business, the complexity is also higher due to the fully automated processes. While there are no separate principles in the subscription economy compared to companies with other business models, the requirements in the subscription world are incomparably higher due to their frequency, volume (invoice volume) and automation. Keeping an overview here is only possible with a professional and mature GoBD-certified software, such as that offered by billwerk.

Conclusion: Further development of digitalisation

Companies that already work with an audit-proof and compliant accounting programme will probably not be surprised by the GoBD compliance requirements mentioned. Nevertheless, it is always helpful to internalise these principles and to regularly subject the accounting to a reality check – also with the cooperation of your tax advisor and your subscription management software.

In addition, the digitalisation of accounting is far from complete. With a view to GoBD 2019, it is clear that innovations such as the implementation of innovative processes, such as the inclusion of cloud systems, and the possibility of mobile scanning are further steps to further simplify accounting for taxpayers and authorities in the future. 

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in Wiki: Standards & Norms