Meanings of Retention Periods Part II

Meanings of Retention Periods Part II

In the following we have put together some examples for the retention requirements of various documents. Including only those that occur most frequently. But the list is not exhaustive:

document Years
Accounting documents 10
Letters of credit 6
Offers that led to the order 6
Appendix to the annual financial statements (according to Section 264 of the German Commercial Code) 10
Fixed asset books and card indexes 10
Work instructions 10
Outgoing invoices 10
Bank receipts 10
Accounting receipts 10
User manuals for computerized bookkeeping 10
Operating cost accounting 10
Tax audit reports (external tax audit) 6
Evaluation documents 10
Hospitality receipts 10
Balance sheets (including opening balance sheet) 10
Accounting documents 10
Incoming invoices plus any correction documents 10
Export documents 10
Travel expenses documents 10
Payrolls 10
Business letters (received and sent) 6
Profit and Loss Account 10
Credits (to invoices) 10
Commercial letters (except invoices or credit notes) 6
Trading books 10
Inventories (according to ยง 240 HGB) 10
Annual financial statements with explanations 10
Journals for general ledger or current account 10
Calculation including documents (if tax-relevant) 10
Cash books 10
Chart of accounts and changes to the chart of accounts 10
Bank statements 10
Wage receipts 10
Payrolls for interim, final and special payments 6
Dunning notices and outgoing reminders 6
Sub-ledgers 10
Price lists, general 6
Price lists as booking documents 10
Auditor’s reports 10
Receipts 10
Invoices to entrepreneurs 10
Travel Expenses 10
G / L accounts 10
Check and bill of exchange documents, general 6
Check and bill of exchange documents, general 6
Check and bill of exchange documents as accounting documents 10
Correspondence 6
Donation receipts, provided booking documents 10
Tax returns and tax assessments 10
System manuals 10
Telephone cost statements as evidence for accounting 10
Liabilities (list) 10
Sales books 10
List of assets 10
Insurance policies for ongoing insurance 10
Insurance policies after the insurance expires 6
Contracts if they serve as accounting documents or are tax-relevant 10
Incoming and outgoing goods books 10
Change 10
Money orders 10

Retention periods of two years

Retention periods of two years apply to non-entrepreneurs and primarily concern invoices and payment receipts. In connection with the law to combat illegal employment, private individuals are obliged to comply with retention periods. These retention periods primarily affect owners of residential property in connection with invoices relating to property services. Invoices for various craft services, but also for planning services, maintenance work, gardening or cleaning services must be kept for two years. Although there is no retention period of five years for private individuals, invoices issued for services on the property should be retained for five years. This is important to prove if the property owner refers to the service provider’s warranty obligation.

Retention periods of six years

According to PHOTIONARY.COM, retention periods of six years apply to commercial and business letters that a company receives, but also to commercial and business letters that a company sends. The company must keep copies of these documents. Furthermore, documents that are important for taxation must be kept for six years. Wage accounts must also be kept for six years.

Retention periods of ten years

Retention periods of ten years apply to invoices and other bookkeeping documents with a book function, such as B accounting documents. The shorter periods only apply if shorter retention periods are permitted in other tax laws. Shorter retention periods, which are stipulated in non-tax laws, do not apply to the tax retention obligation. It should be noted that the invoices must be legible for the entire retention period. In this case, periods of ten years are relevant for the tax retention requirement. Retention periods of ten years apply primarily to

  • Books, trading books and other records
  • Inventories
  • Annual accounts
  • Individual financial statements
  • Opening balances
  • Consolidated Financial Statements
  • Situation reports
  • Bills
  • Group management reports
  • Work instructions and organizational documents for understanding the books
  • Accounting documents
  • Documents for customs declarations
  • Duplicates of outgoing invoices
  • Incoming invoices

Unlimited retention periods

In contrast to invoices or accounting documents, which have a limited retention period, unlimited retention periods are referred to as permanent values. Such unlimited storage applies in public administration to documents mostly marked with a “D”. These are primarily files on proceedings before the Federal Constitutional Court, property documents, construction plans for important buildings, legal documents or civil status records. The longest retention period in the economy is ten years. From a commercial and tax law perspective, there are no longer retention periods in business, but various documents such as patents should be used, Construction plans, court rulings, property documents, shareholder agreements and personnel files are kept indefinitely.

Retention periods for various documents

Accounting documents

Various documents fall under the category of accounting records. Invoices count as accounting records, but receipts, delivery notes, bank statements, utility bills, booking instructions, postage books, cash reports, process files, order slips and payrolls are also considered accounting records. In short, accounting records are all documents relating to the individual business transactions. The following applies: accounting records with capital-forming benefits have a ten-year retention period. This is due to the Tax Amendment Act of 1998, the revision of which extended the retention periods for accounting documents from six to ten years.

Bank and cash receipts

Bank and cash receipts are also accounting receipts. Not all bank and cash receipts need to be retained if the purpose of retention is otherwise secured. Such receipts that do not need to be kept are receipts, cash register slips, or receipts. If end-of-day total receipts are kept instead of cash register strips, this is sufficient. The completeness must be guaranteed, information on the name of the business, end-of-day total and date must be available. Here, too, it should be noted that these accounting documents must be kept for ten years.

Retention Periods 2