Electronic data in the accounting

20. April 2021
  • Jitka Pešičková
  • Ivana Kůtová

All entities undergo a certain development in the course of their activity. The demands on speed, ease, quality, availability and price continue to increase. The forms of account keeping are also subject to development. Electronic accounting is becoming increasingly more popular every year. This progress is not surprising. We are living in the era of modern technologies, in which the forms of account keeping are gradually changing as well.

The equivalence of electronic documents and paper ones is an unquestionable fact by now, and the number of digital documents can reasonably be expected to increase rapidly in the future.

Accounting records and their forms

All facts, which relate to account keeping, are recorded exclusively via accounting records. An accounting entity must keep accounting records in the scope stipulated by act no. 563/1991 Coll., on accounting (hereinafter the “AA”), at minimum. According to article 4 paragraph 10 of the AA, accounting entities may use technical means, information media and programme equipment in connection with accounting records.

Accounting records are understood to mean data, which are a record of all facts relating to bookkeeping. Accounting records may have the form of a paper document, a technical one, or mixed form (article 33 of the AA).

Paper document form: an accounting record on an analogue medium written by hand, on a typewriter, by printing or reprographic techniques or a printing output device of computer equipment, the content of which is legible to a person.

Technical form: an accounting record performed by means of an electronic, optical or other form that does not belong to the paper document form, which enables it to be transferred into a form, the content of which is legible to a person.

Mixed form: an accounting record in the form of a paper document, which contains the same information in technical form not legible to a person that enables it to be transformed into a form, in which the content is legible to a person.

An accounting entity may transfer an accounting record from one form into another. This transfer creates a new accounting record. A logical requirement is the obligation of transferring the technical form of records into legible form, and clarity and permanency of the records are also required. In the case of accounting documents, the requirement of conclusiveness is accentuated in the AA in article 11, too, which further specifies what accounting documents must contain. Among other things, these also include a signature record of the person responsible for the accounting case and the person responsible for entering it in books. According to article 33a paragraph 4 of the AA, the signature record is understood to mean a handwritten as well as an acknowledged electronic signature according to a special legal regulation.

Similar treatment can also be found in act no. 235/2004 Coll., on value added tax (hereinafter “the VAT act”), where tax invoices are discussed, starting with article 26. Article 26 of the VAT act itself states that:

(1) A tax invoice is a document that meets the requirements stipulated in this act.
(2) A tax invoice may have the paper or electronic form.
(3) A tax invoice has electronic form if issued and received electronically. The person, for whom the performance is made, needs to agree with using the tax invoice in electronic form.

The basic condition for the electronic form of tax invoice is therefore the consent of the person, for whom it is issued. Consent may also be concludent, i.e. unspoken, when acceptance of the tax invoice in electronic form is apparent.

In the case of an electronic tax invoice, we must ensure credibility of origin, integrity of content and legibility, same as with the printed version.

In terms of ensuring credibility of origin and integrity of content of a document in electronic form, the accounting entity may choose from three options, according to article 34 paragraph 4 of the VAT act:

  1. a) attaching an acknowledged electronic signature to the document,
  2. b) attaching an acknowledged electronic stamp to the document,
  3. c) using electronic data interchange (EDI), if the agreement on this exchange stipulates the use of procedures that ensure credibility of origin and integrity of content.

Ad A) Electronic signature – one of the inherent obligatory essentials on an accounting record is the signature record of the person responsible for the accounting case and for entering it in the books. In case of electronic records, this is the electronic signature, the use of which is governed by act no. 297/2016 Coll., on services constituting confidence in electronic transactions. There are several types of electronic signatures, depending on what purpose they are to be used for or what entity uses them. There is a qualified electronic signature, advanced electronic signature and another type of electronic signature (it is sometimes called a simple electronic signature). An electronic signature is a certain expression of the will of a specific person. 

Ad B) Electronic stamp – an equivalent of the electronic signature, which can be used directly by legal entities. Electronic stamps should serve as proof of the electronic document having been issued by a certain legal entity and provide certainty of its origin and the integrity of this document. A stamp usually is not connected to a specific person and in this way, it differs from the electronic signature.

Computerization of accounting documents

In case an accounting entity has decided to keep accounting only in electronic form, cases may occur, when the accounting entity will receive an accounting document in paper form. A suitable document scanner needs to be purchased for the process of computerization, for converting the paper document into an electronic version. The scanned documents are subsequently indexed, metadata are created for them, electronic signatures may be attached to them, time stamps etc. The process of computerization may also be assigned to specialised companies.

Information technologies and their use bring a number of advantages, but it is necessary to ensure the required characteristics of the documents in the sense of credibility, identification of the originator, ensured constancy and permanence and access to the content in legible form for the entire necessary period of time.

What to say to conclude….

At the end of our article, we would like to mention several advantages of electronic data:

  • Online access to data
  • Transparency of processes, flexible work with data in terms of time and place
  • Acceleration of selected processes
  • Time and costs savings when working with the documents
  • Technical solution for documents with a large number of data/lines
Author: Jitka Pešičková, Ivana Kůtová