No more obligation to print or digitally preserve accounting records kept electronically


published on 18 October 2022 | reading time approx. 3 minutes

Art. 1 co. 2-bis of DL 73/2022 (DL “Semplificazioni fiscali”) has finally settled, hopefully definitively, the uncertainty that had been created among operators regarding the actual scope of Art. 7, paragraph 4-quater of DL 357/94, as most recently amended by DL 34/2019.

The version of this article in force prior to the last regulatory intervention provided that the keeping of any account ledger by electronic systems on any medium is, in any case, considered regular in the absence of transcription on paper media within the terms of the law, if, during access, inspection or verification, the same are updated on the aforesaid electronic systems and are printed at the request of the verifiers and in their presence. 

This rule was intended to be an exception to the previous paragraph 4-ter of the same article, which instead requires the “mechanised” registers to be printed within three months of the deadline for submitting the tax return.

Although the intent of the rule might have been clear enough for most, especially in light of the parliamentary documents accompanying the approval of Decree-Law No. 34/2019, the Tax Authorities, in several subsequent positions (in particular, the answer to interpello No. 236 of 9 April 2021 and Resolution No. 16 of 28 March 2022), had instead considered making a distinction between the concept of “keeping”, mentioned in the rule, and that of “storage”, which in the opinion of the Office were to be considered different obligations, although placed in continuity. 

From this distinction, the Autorithies came to the conclusion that where accounting records are kept in electronic format:
  • for the purposes of their regularity, they do not have to be printed or placed in digital storage until the third month following the deadline for submission of the relevant tax return, unless requested to do so by the control bodies during access, inspection or audit;
  • by that time, however, they must be materialised on paper or placed in digital storage (carried out in accordance with Ministerial Decree of 17 June 2014).

Evidently, the facilitative purpose of the rule was thus substantially nullified by ministerial practice.
The amendment inserted during the conversion of DL 73/2022, which incorporated a proposal submitted by the National Council of Chartered Accountants and Accounting Experts, effectively overcomes the restrictive position of the Tax Authorities. 

In fact, it is expressly clarified, directly in the text of the regulation, that the exemption provided for in Article 7, paragraph 4-quater of DL 357/94 operates not only for the keeping, but also for the storage of any electronic accounting register. 

Thanks to this regulatory intervention, it will thus be possible for taxpayers to avoid both the paper printing of accounting records and the digital storage pursuant to the Digital Administration Code, keeping them updated only on electronic media and printing them only upon request by the tax authorities during audits and in their presence.

The amendment is effective from 20 August 2022, the date on which the law converting Law Decree 73/2022 came into force. 

At this point, the question arises as to the effect of this amendment on previous years, should the taxpayer, due to his own negligence or on the basis of the previous wording of the rule, not have timely printed or stored the tax documents. 

Since this is a favourable rule, it is to be expected that such behaviour can no longer be considered punishable. 

Clarification on this point from the Tax Authoritiesis therefore hoped for. 



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