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You CAN Get Rid of The Paper!

Too Much PaperA business using either a manual or a computerised accounting system may want to store and keep paper records in electronic form. Where paper records are produced or received in the course of carrying on business, the ATO accepts the imaging of those records onto an electronic storage medium provided that the electronic copies are a true and clear reproduction of the original paper records.

Where paper records are imaged and stored electronically the requirements of section 262A are satisfied if they are:

  • not altered or manipulated once stored;
  • retained for the statutory period of five years; and
  • capable of being retrieved and read at all times by ATO staff. The taxpayer is expected to provide appropriate facilities for the viewing of the electronic records kept in that format and where necessary, the printing of a paper copy or the provision of an electronic copy.

The ATO considers that paper records imaged and stored electronically should be:

  • read only; and
  • subject to adequate back-up control, i.e., a duplicate back-up copy of the stored records must be kept at all times at a safe location.

Paper records that can be imaged and stored include:

  • invoices, purchase orders, receipts, vouchers, credit notes, delivery dockets, etc.;
  • bank statements and other bank records and documents; and
  • any other paper source documents produced or received in the course of carrying on a business.

Original paper records that have been imaged onto an electronic storage medium need not be retained for the purposes of the Act.

Under section 262A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and section 25A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, electronic business records must be able to be retrieved and read by Tax Office staff for five years.

Copyright ATO, 27 September 2004,

This article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. We do not warrant the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information or material in this article. All information is subject to change without notice. We and each party providing material displayed in this article disclaim liability to all persons or organisations in relation to any action(s) taken on the basis of currency or accuracy of the information or material, or any loss or damage suffered in connection with that information or material. You should make your own enquiries before entering into any transaction on the basis of the information or material in this article. Please ensure you contact us to discuss your particular circumstances and how the information provided applies to your situation.

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