SSUE : Can a person responsible for the payment or collection of any tax, or for the filing of any information related to a tax, ("taxpayer") use records that have been electronically stored and reproduced as support data when determining the amount of tax?

DIRECTIVE : Yes, electronically stored facsimile records of a taxpayer's original records that are capable of being electronically reproduced in both screen print and hardcopy (paper) form may be used by the taxpayer and the Department to determine the amount of tax. The original record may be destroyed by the taxpayer once such a facsimile record is created.

Introduction

For the purposes of this Directive, "record(s)" refers to any information, including any books, papers, records, and similar data the Commissioner may require from the taxpayer to determine the tax. See generally G.L. c. 62C, §§ 25, 78; 830 CMR 62C.25.1; Administrative Procedures 609, 603 and 101.

Electronic storage refers to storage of the facsimile record via computer, compact disc and similar technologies; it does not include storage of the original record on microfilm or microfiche. Electronic reproduction refers to processes that generate original reproduction(s) directly from the electronically stored facsimile record in screen print and hardcopy form. Hardcopy reproductions of the facsimile record must be produced via computer printer or other read-out modality directly attached to the electronic storage medium; copies of hardcopy reproductions of the facsimile record are not acceptable.

DISCUSSION OF LAW :

Every taxpayer must maintain suitable records that are accurate and complete. Generally, such records must be retained for three years. G.L. c. 62C, § 24. In certain situations, records must be retained for longer periods. See 830 CMR 62C.25.1(3); Administrative Procedure 609.

To effect these provisions, a taxpayer converting original records to electronic storage and reproduction must adhere to the following requirements:

1. The electronically stored facsimile record must exactly replicate the content of the original record so that screen print and hard copy versions of the stored facsimile record exactly replicate the content of the original record.

2. No alterations may be made to the original record, the electronically stored facsimile record, or to any screen print or hardcopy reproduction at any time. The taxpayer must implement, and make available to the Commissioner, controls to prevent the unauthorized alteration of the original record, the electronically stored facsimile record and any reproduction. The taxpayer must also implement safeguards to protect the permanency and legibility of the electronically stored facsimile record.

3. All electronically stored facsimiles of original records must be indexed, cross-referenced or labeled using the same reference systems used for the original records. Reference systems pertaining to electronically stored facsimiles which are themselves electronically stored must be able to be reproduced in screen print and hardcopy form.

4. The taxpayer must periodically check all electronically stored data and related electronic storage and reproduction functions to ensure their integrity.

5. The taxpayer must provide the necessary facilities and resources to allow for the timely retrieval and inspection for tax purposes by the Commissioner, in screen print or hardcopy form, of any electronically stored facsimile records and reference systems.

6. Electronically stored facsimile records must be preserved for any time period required for the preservation of the original records they replace.

7. In addition to the above requirements, hardcopy reproductions must generally conform to the technical standards set forth in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Revenue Procedure 91-59 or its successors.

Conclusion

A taxpayer need not obtain prior approval from the Department for converting original records to electronically stored facsimiles capable of being reproduced in screen print and hardcopy form. In addition, a taxpayer need not obtain prior approval from the Department before original records so stored and reproduced are destroyed. However, the Department reserves the right to reject any electronically stored facsimile, reference system and reproduction that is deficient according to the standards set forth in this Directive or that does not conform to the technical standards of IRS Revenue Procedure 91-59 or its successors. See also G.L. c. 62C, § 73, for provisions relating to taxpayer mishandling of tax related information.

For information on automatic data processing (ADP) accounting systems record storage and production, see 830 CMR 62C.25.1(2)(b). For information on micrographic (including microfilm and microfiche) retention and reproduction of records, see 830 CMR 62C.25.1(2)(a). For information on the reproduction of a "return" (including supporting schedules) or an "official Department form," see TIR 91-6, Reproduction of Department of Revenue Forms.

/s/Mitchell Adams
Mitchell Adams
Commissioner of Revenue

MA:HMP:kt

March 9, 1995

DD 95-2