Every year, in all companies, the same problem is always repeated, a question that is asked incessantly, a question that raises real headaches. Sure enough, they are thinking about accounting documents. Or more specifically, about what to do with them and how long to keep them.

In this article we outline some of the guidelines that businesses should keep in mind when setting time limits for retaining business documents. To do this, it will be necessary to take into account all the existing regulations on the matter.

Relationship between accounting documents and commercial and tax rules

If you read the Commercial Code, you can see that it establishes as a guideline that entrepreneurs must keep accounting documents,as well as correspondence, documentation and supporting documents belonging to the business, for the next 6 years from the last registration.

But, although it is not required by law, it is highly recommended that companies also keep official accounting books, signed annual accounts, long-term contracts and computer backups of accounting records indefinitely.

All this in order to be able to consult this data, for example, in a situation that requires the deeds of purchase of shares acquired a long time ago.

In reference to the tax rules, what should be cited is the period of 4 years of prescription,time in which the Treasury must decree the tax debt. Within that 4-year period, the company can also request that the taxes be refunded.

However, the tax reforms that came in 2015 increase the limitation period for checking deductions and negative tax bases by 10 years.

At the end of that period, the Treasury will still have the possibility of demanding a corporate tax return and the annual accounts of the year that generated them.

One thing is clear: you have to be careful with requests for information from the Treasury.

Any action that is subject to a certain expiration of the prescription, is concerned with those acts indicated above, but never with a verification function, which may interfere with third parties subjects and involve obligations that provide data to the inspection.

Because of this, it is recommended that companies keep all tax documents in 6 years,commercial prescription time.

Finally, in relation to tax matters,the neglect of a request for information that the company is obliged to give, can lead to penalties of up to 2% of the turnover.

What other business documents should you keep? Special periods for its conservation.

In addition to all the documentation that must be kept and that has been mentioned throughout this article, there is another of equal importance that should not be forgotten.

Its main characteristics is the conservation time, since sometimes it exceeds the 10 years indicated above.

To illustrate this type of documentation, we cite an example. A company has the right to write off certain assets and, in addition, the right to charge the relevant expenses to the income statement for those years that take place in the future. However, the inspection may ascertain the origin of such charges.

To keep company invoices

and other proof of fixed assets, you have to start counting the limitation time at the time when the exercise of what was the last amortization takes place.

The same applies to financial instruments such as concessions, capital grants and, in general, to all those expenses and revenues that are charged to the entire profit and loss account during all the years that take place.

The importance of the statute of limitations in the presentation of accounting and tax documents

Regulated by the Civil Code, the statute of limitations indicates the deadline that the norm has established for the exercise of a right.

In the first place, personal actions that do not have a special term indicated will prescribe at the end of the 15 years, these being the actions most related to the commercial activities of the companies. This means that companies take over all the responsibilities that derive from the activities that take place. And these can be demanded by third parties within the period of the aforementioned prescription.

Finally, and alluding to the issue of liability for defects in the quality of materials or for defects hidden in general, it is possible that there are various rules that allow different limitation periods in relation to other activities or sectors,leaving their study in the hands of the company depending on the specific case.