How long should legal documentation for tax purposes be stored?
Storage period for accounting documents
Documents required for accrual and payment of taxes, including documents confirming receipt of income, payment of expenses and taxes, should be kept for at least 4 years.
When companies record losses at year-end, they are entitled to carry over losses to reduce their future tax payments by paying taxes on the difference between a year's profit and a year’s loss. The documents received in “unprofitable” years must be kept for 4 years after all losses have been used up for tax reduction purposes. For example, a company, which has been operating since 2015, records profits for the first time only in 2017. This company could reduce the amount of tax it needs to pay by deducting its losses of 2015 and 2016. In such case, it would be necessary to keep the documents for these years for a period of 4 years starting from 2017.
Primary accounting documents, ledgers, financial statements and audit reports must be kept for at least 5 years.
The following fines are imposed in case of violation of document storage periods (Article 120 Russian Tax Code):
- RUB 10,000 when there are no accounting and tax accounting documents for one tax period;
- RUB 30,000 when there are accounting and tax accounting documents for several tax periods;
- At least RUB 40,000 or 20% of the unpaid tax amount when the absence of documents results in an understatement of the tax base.
Storage period for HR documentation
HR documents must be kept for 50 years if issued after 2003 and at least 75 years for documents issued before or in 2003. Companies that closed down must transfer their documents to state archives.
There are also industry standards for archiving various types of documents which have been adopted by the relevant authorities and agencies.
For a complete list of documents and their storage periods, click here.