What are the record keeping obligations for an Irish company?

Philip Hayden, 6th July 2018

There are several different factors to take into account when reviewing company files and assessing how long documents should be retained before embarking on a ‘Spring Clean’ of records. Record Keeping can be defined as any records an Irish company is required to keep during the course of business. These records can include Anti-Money Laundering documentation, company files in line with the Companies Act 2014, Company Accounts, Tax records and other documents linked to the company. The record keeping obligations outlined in this article apply to any company type, entity, organisation and grouping that conduct business transactions.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into effect on the 25th of May 2018 and the Data Protection Act Section 2(1)(c)(iv) formally define that “data shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes”. This poses two major questions for companies; What types of data does my company keep? And How long should it retain each type of data?

Plan and Review

In order to display compliance, the organisation should have a plan and a schedule in place. The schedule should be drafted in plain terms highlighting each type of data and how long it should be kept. This should include tracking to ensure information is not held longer than is needed. In addition, to ensure compliance, each company should have an appropriate means of destroying any records where needed. An example of this would be an in-house or third-party means of shredding documents, files and dealing with hard drives from business computers.

Companies Act Requirements

In all cases, an entity has statutory obligations in line with the Companies Act 2014. This should include tracking internally all aspects of the structure and officers of the company and includes things like the ‘Ultimate Beneficial Owners’ register, a register of Directors and Secretaries along with tracking the movement and issuing of shares. These records should be available throughout the life of a company and should be retained by a designated officer for a six-year period after a company is wound down.

Accounting and Taxation

Accounting and Taxation records should be retained for a period of six years after the return or filing period and come under Section 285 of the Companies Act 2014 and Section 886 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 respectively. These obligations will apply to any documents associated with the preparation of accounts (which can be stored electronically to save on cabinet space) and the same when it comes to tax filings. Caution must be observed in this instance as open revenue commissioner records or corrections may take additional time to complete and must be taken into consideration when examining compliance.

Liquidation and Winding-up

In the same vein, if a company has been liquidated, records must be treated with the same care. Typically, at an early stage of the process, an Appropriate Person is assigned to retain documentation once the company has been dissolved. This person could be the liquidator, an officer of the company or an auditor and as above these records should be made readily available to any statutory or relevant body for a period of six years.

Due Diligence and Anti-Money Laundering

Due Diligence or Anti-Money Laundering documentation currently governed by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is classified as the data a company gathers on any party it has a business relationship with. The amount of documentation will vary based on the type of business and scope of the same. Applicable sets of documentation and files should be retained for five years and should include any internal or external reports, correspondence and anything ancillary to the business relationship.

Government or EU Funding

Should the company receive any Government or EU funding, a contract is typically issued by the funding body that places an obligation to retain records for ten years. As such, a company must ensure any policy it has in place must be fully reviewed.

So before launching into a ‘Spring Clean’ of company files, make sure that a policy governing what can and cannot be disposed of is in place and adhered to. Should you have any questions on Anti-Money Laundering documentation, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Companies Act 2014 or wish to know more about record keeping obligation for your company, please don’t hesitate to contact Company Bureau on 01-6461625 or via email cosec@companybureau.ie
 

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