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Attention GoBD: Trap in the accounting of the self-employed

This post is also available in: Deutsch

The problem

The topic GoBD or written out “principles of proper accounting and data storage” are actually old hat. These were published with the letter from the Federal Ministry of Finance on 14.11.2014 and apply in Germany for tax years beginning after 31.12.2014. The rules have been in full force since 2018.

Nevertheless, I have the feeling that so far hardly any small business owner, self-employed person, etc. has heard of it, or even pays attention to its application.

What do self-employed people have to think about?

However, it should be known that every company and every self-employed or freelancer has a duty to comply with the requirements of the GoBD. Failure to do so can result in extremely serious disadvantages in the event of a possible tax audit and, for example, the reason for granting a deduction. The risk of liability is therefore enormous. One bears the responsibility for the proper management of one’s own books even if one commissions a service provider with the accounting, only if a tax advisor only prepares the declarations. And the rules of the GoBD start ready for things like invoicing. For example, it is necessary to ensure that invoices once invoiced cannot simply be deleted or amended, but that, in the event of changes, the amounts to be paid are only corrected with credits and similar accounting methods. As a rule, this should not be possible with the creation of invoices via Word in a suborder. Rather, this requires GoBD-compliant software. This documents changes/corrections to the accounting in a comprehensible way.

If such software is not used, the following points must be taken into account: retention, completeness, immutability, loss protection, traceability, discoverability, order, timely recording and booking, procedural documentation. Missing points can lead to doubts by auditors, which can result in significant additional payments to the tax office. This is especially true if the method used does not provide any permitted digital data processing, via an interface, for an examiner.

Documents and assignment important

In addition, the retention must be ensured in addition to linking document and account assignment. In this context, the GoBD also draw attention to a judgment of the Federal Finance Court, which decides that in principle all documents that are important for the understanding of individual records must be kept.

I can already literally see the heads of small business owners, self-employed people, semi-professional esports teams, streamers or smaller influencers smoking. However, one cannot avoid establishing proper accounting, which of course also includes knowledge of deductibility issues, supporting documents (such as travel expenses or entertainment), contract arrangements and similar points. As part of training sessions, I can answer many questions and minimize the risk. Playing at risk is very dangerous at the moment. As I have explained several times, the days when tax offices or tax auditors do not know what things like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and the like are and do not know that this not only generates substantial revenues, but also knows in turn that many companies/self-employed people in the field, often out of ignorance, but more often out of ignorance, take duties lightly. Liability for social security benefits or taxes is thus pre-programmed and the obligation to pay most comes at the moment when one does not expect it.

I can help

Just contact me without obligation via my contact options and I will help streamers, influencers, esport teams, self-employed or smaller startups to implement effective processes.




Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


03322 5078053


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