In the age of home office and virtual meetings, as well as in the interest of saving paper and preserving our environment, keeping accounting documents in digital form should no longer be an issue. The Swiss Code of Obligations (CO) and the Ordinance on the Keeping and Retention of Books of Account (Olico) have allowed the written record of electronic documents in Switzerland for some time now, but there are still a number of points that need to be observed.
The recognised accounting principle includes, for example, the documentary proof for individual accounting procedures, clarity, or verifiability of accounting records. When accounting documents are stored electronically, other principles must also be respected. These include the principles of regular data processing.
Data processing must comply with the recognised accounting principle
Regarding data processing, integrity must be guaranteed. This means that the authenticity of the documents and the fact that they are forgery-proof must be guaranteed. The documents must be stored in such a way that they cannot be altered or that any changes can be ascertained and documented. It is recommended to use a software which ensure the security of the revision. The Federal Council is currently considering a motion to facilitate the digitalisation of accounting and, in particular, the digital storage of supporting documents.
Availability in accordance with the recognised accounting principle
The principle of availability must also be ensured. Accounting records must be made available within a reasonable period of time for consultation and verification and must be legible without additional tools. In practice, i.e., within an organisation, the question of who is responsible for archiving information must be clearly regulated and documented. The integrity and legibility of the information carriers must be regularly checked.
Further provisions for the annual report and the audit report
There are further requirements for the annual report or the audit report. In order for electronic archiving to be sufficient in these cases, a qualified electronic signature is required. A simple signature from a PDF program is therefore not sufficient. If the qualified signature is not given, a manually signed copy must still be kept.
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