Paperless Compliance in South Africa

In South Africa, accounting documents such as receipts and invoices can be kept digitally, without keeping the original, paper copy. There are however some conditions that need to be taken into account. These conditions are defined in Art. 30 of the Tax Administration Act and Government Notice No 787.

Acceptable electronic form

The documents should be kept in ‘acceptable electronic form’. This includes that the integrity of the electronic form satisfies the standard contained in section 14 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, such as integrity, completeness and availability standards.

Additionally, the documents should be able to be provided to SARS within a reasonable period.

Storage Location

In principle, the documents in electronic form must be kept and maintained at a place physically located in South Africa. However, a senior SARS official may authorise to keep the records outside South Africa.

System documentation

In most cases, the company must keep system documentation that explains the specific method of electronic record keeping.

Retention period

Supporting documents should be kept for five years from the date of submission of the return or the end of the relevant tax period.

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