French VAT Fraud Prevention Package to Include a New Attempt to Mandate B2B E-invoicing

Christiaan van der Valk
June 13, 2019

The French Minister of Public Accounts and Action, which has authority over all tax matters, has taken advantage of the process that is required to transpose the EU E-Commerce Directive to launch a number of initiatives to curb VAT fraud, including a renewed attempt to create a system of mandatory e-invoicing.

Going from B2G to B2B

A program for the gradual implementation of electronic invoicing for business-to-government (public procurement) transactions is currently entering its final stages whereby even small companies will soon be required to send their invoices to public entities via the so-called Chorus platform.

Current President Macron had previously, as Finance Minister under his predecessor François Hollande, already proposed to introduce a similar obligation for B2B e-invoicing, but this proposal was rejected due to inconsistencies with the VAT Directive and a perceived increase in the administrative burden on companies.

However, times have changed and France – like other EU Member States – is seeing new opportunities to go down the B2B e-invoicing mandate path since Italy led the way on 1 January 2019. The Italian government obtained an EU derogation from certain provisions in the VAT Directive which allowed the country to go live with a countrywide e-invoicing mandate that is based on prior real-time controls by the tax administration. Such ‘clearance’ e-invoicing systems, which are generally inspired by the approach taken in the past 5-10 years by Latin American countries, have proven to be very effective tools in the fight against VAT fraud.

A first step to nationwide clearance e-invoicing?

While it’s still too early to talk about a concrete (or theoretical) French proposal for B2B e-invoicing, it is clear that the government means business. Minister Gérald Darmanin has stated that the government will begin a consultation process that involves the private sector to discuss how to best get small and medium sized companies up-and-running as smoothly as possible.

 

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Author

Christiaan van der Valk

Christiaan Van Der Valk is vice president, strategy. Elected a World Economic Forum Global Leader for Tomorrow in 2000, Christiaan is an internationally recognized voice on e-business strategy, law, policy, best practice and commercial issues. Formerly co-founder and president of Trustweaver (acquired by Sovos), Christiaan also holds long-standing leadership roles at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the European E-invoicing Service Providers Association (EESPA). Over the past 20 years, he has presented at and authored key papers for international meetings at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Asia Europe Meeting, World Trade Organization and several other UN agencies. Christiaan earned his Master of Laws degree from Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.
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