The most recent data retention regulations
are codified in IRS Rev. Proc. 98-25.2 Specifically,
corporate taxpayers are required to retain all relevant data as long as
it may be material to support a tax return. Taxpayers must provide such
data at an auditor's request in a sequential file format, and the data
must include transaction-level detail, as well as information needed to
explain all codes that are used.
Once R/3 data has been archived, meeting these requirements becomes a
challenge. Data is spread among different archiving objects; other data
that may be needed resides in the online R/3 database. To solve this problem,
the ASUG Tax Interest Group and SAP jointly developed specifications and
a design for the application that became the Data Retention Tool (DART).
DART provides the following tools:
- Data Extraction Tool: This tool reads and copies data into
external flat files (base extracts). Data is selected by fiscal year,
period, and company code. DART extracts data starting with financial
documents, then extracts all related source documents from the Logistics
modules, all related documents in Controlling and Fixed Asset Accounting,
and finally all supporting master and configuration data. Base extracts
include administrative and self-descriptive information to make them
completely self-contained. Such extracts can be queried from any R/3
system where DART is installed, independent of R/3 release.
- Extract Browser Tool: This is used to browse data within a
- View Query Tool: Users can define views that link data from
different sources. View queries can be run against one or multiple base
extracts in order to produce files that satisfy auditors' requests for
data. These files are simple column-delimited text files.
- Archive Retrieval Tool: This tool retrieves archived data
into a DART-specific staging area for later extraction by the extraction
- Extract and File Management Tools: DART provides a log of
base extracts and view query files, and allows all files produced by
DART to be moved to long-term storage (e.g., optical) using Archive
Link. Also included in these tools is an online worksheet to estimate
file sizes and runtimes.
- Customer Extensions: Extensions allow users to add more data
to DART extracts in order to meet company-specific audit requirements.
DART has to be installed as an add-on in R/3 3.0D through 4.5B. As of
Release 4.6, DART is fully integrated in the core R/3 system.
After the technical installation, a DART implementation requires the
- Estimate data storage requirements and reserve sufficient disk space.
- Decide on a strategy for long-term file storage. For some general
guidelines, see IRS Rev. Proc. 98-25.
- Evaluate your configuration needs. The tax department should determine
whether the standard DART configuration retrieves all data that is needed
for audit support. While the ASUG Tax Interest Group made a decision
as to what data a typical R/3 user needs, this is not a legal guarantee
of completeness and each corporate taxpayer has to use his or her own
judgment. Some corporate taxpayers have entered into record retention
agreements with the IRS that specify in detail what data needs to be
- Define and execute view queries to create data views so that taxpayers
can determine what data auditors will ask for.
- Fine-tune the DART and R/3 configuration parameters, if necessary,
especially if very large data volumes are extracted.
DART and the IRS
DART was released in April 1998. The IRS became interested in the DART
module and campaigned for information about it and R/3 in general. SAP
provided a two-day seminar to selected IRS agents, covering the basic
concepts of R/3 and DART. Today, DART has been used by R/3 customers'
U.S. and U.S.-controlled corporations as the primary tool for successfully
meeting audit requirements. Other countries are considering the use of
rules similar to the stringent IRS regulations, and R/3 users in those
countries are adopting DART.
For Further Details
For more information on DART installation,
see OSS note 99914. If you are interested in DART training, SAP offers
the course BC680, "Data Retention Tool." For details, visit www.sap.com/education.
ASUG also offers an opportunity to learn
more about DART on its discussion boards for ASUG members at www.asug.com.
David E. Nelson works for SAP America, Inc., as Product Manager for
U.S. Taxation, responsible for the roll-in of tax development requirements,
and the roll-out of tax-related products. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Theo Zimmermann is a Development Manager in the area of taxation within
GBU Financials at SAP Labs, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 See "Data and Document Archiving for SAP
R/3: Mission-Critical, Yet Easier Than You Think" in the Jan/Feb/Mar issue
of SAP Insider (Vol.2, No.1).
2 For more information from the IRS on IRS
Rev. Proc. 98-25, visit www.revenueprocedures.com