Did you know that in almost every country an entrepreneur is obliged to keep their administration for at least a couple of years for the tax authorities? In the Netherlands for example entrepreneurs are obliged to keep their administration for at least 7 years! What exactly should you save? What is the best way to save your documents? If you want to know how long you are obligated to keep your administration, we would recommend you to look it up at the internet! 

What should you keep? 

What you have to keep in the most cases is actually very simple. Again, what you exactly need to keep depends on your country and we would recommend you to look it up at the internet! In the most cases you should keep your entire business administration for at least a couple of years! This means that you have to keep everything that has to do with your business operations! You should keep invoices, receipts, accounts receivable and vendor accounts, sales administration, your ledger, stock administration and e-mails (both internal and external) that relate to your business operations! This is because your business administration is the basis for you VAT and income tax return. In the most countries the tax authorities demands that these returns exactly match your paperwork. So you must keep your documents very long, in some cases even more than 10 years! 

How can you store these documents? 

In the past, everything had to be kept on paper and as a company your cupboards were sufficient with folders with administration. This is still possible but it can be much simpler and clearer! In addition to taking up a lot of (physical) space this is also super risky. For example, when fire breaks out and your folders burn, you lose your documents. Or you simply lose document because they are just papers. At the moment this happens you can't meet the retention obligation and in the most countries this is a very big problem because this can not only result in a fine, but it can also result in a criminal prosecution. Saving paper versions in folders is therefore definitely not recommended. 

Digital storage, on the other hand, is a much better option for saving your documents. It takes up less space, it is less risky because you won't lose your entire computer and your external drive by accident and at the moment that a fire breaks out your documents will still be securely stored on a hard drive or in the cloud (depends on how you save it). However, in the most countries there are also a number of obligations here. You documents must still be accurate and legible in a couple of years. The authenticity characteristics, the authenticity of the origin and the integrity of the content must also be guaranteed. You will also receive receipt or invoices on paper, which you can simply scan and store digitally. The perfect format in which you can save your documents is PDF/A (What is PDF/A?), so that you know for sure that your documents are stored properly and remain intact for a very long time. The other advantage of saving the documents as PDF/A is that you can save your documents with text recognition, which makes it very easy to find a document by typing in the text you are looking for in your 'finder'. Another good reason to save all you documents as PDF/A is that you no longer have to store your mails in your mail and it doesn't has to take ridiculously long time to find these mails but simply save your mail as PDF/A on your computer or in the cloud. 

In short, the best way to save your documents for the retention obligation is to do this digitally as PDF/A files with the preferred text recognition (OCR) added. To be absolutely sure that you will not lose the files, we can recommend that you also save the documents in the cloud or on an external drive.

Where can you convert files to PDF/A files?  

If you want to convert files to PDF/A without text recognition (OCR), click here

If you want to convert files to PDF/A with text recognition (OCR), click here