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Retention periods fiscal documents

Retention periods fiscal documents

Summary dated 1st February 2020 of the essential legal provisions regarding the retention periods of your archives.

Documents Minimum retention period (1) Format Start date of the retention period Act
Accounts and documents required to assess the amount of taxable income.
This term must be interpreted very broadly. It relates to more than the submission of only the legal prescribed documents (Ghent, November 5th, 1998, Fiscale Actualiteit 1998, 40/5).
This concerns in particular:
  • the accounts and documents of which the use is obligatory, such as ledgers and proof of receipt books for people with a liberal profession or working in a practice or office (proof of receipt and proof of assistance given: Art. 320 Income Tax Code 1992) and any accounts, documents or forms prescribed in view of the control of income or expenses of taxable persons or third parties;
  • the accounts documents, i.e. all documents related to maintaining accounts;
  • any other documents in as far as that they can contribute to the assessment of the taxable income, such as registers of shares and registered bonds, details of the analytical accounts, estimates and specifications, tachograph disks (2).
years, except in case of seizure by a judicial body or deviation granted by the administration original, in some cases microfilm,  microfiches or CD-WORM is possible (“write once, read many”) Up to the end of the seventh financial year following the taxable period Art. 315 Income Tax Code 1992
Computerised systems (the abovementioned accounts and documents stored by using a computer system or any other electronic device), data carriers, programs 7 years A legible and intelligible format As from January 1st of the year following the last year in which the system was used Art. 315 bis Income Tax Code 1992

Although we have composed this list with much care, Merak N.V. cannot be held responsible for any errors or any changes made to legislation.

(1) The tax authorities may, for instance, dispute a professional loss the moment the loss is effectively reduced from the taxable income of subsequent taxable periods (Cass. September 12th, 1991, F.J.F. 1992, 49).

(2) With regard to tachograph disks, the Court of Appeal in Brussels ordered that, despite the fact that tachograph disks are not recorded for a direct fiscal purpose, they are important for determining the taxable income of a transport company and their submission may therefore be requested (Brussels, February 15th, 2007, Fiscale Koerier, 07/511).

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