On 7 July, Greece began voting to elect a new government. The disposed governing left party has been dealt with a hefty blow having been in power since 2015. It was hoped they would introduce less severe politics which many claim they have not only failed to do but, in fact, they actually introduced stricter measures. As some expected, the opposition centre-right party won with an outright majority. With this result, Greece has once again voted for change with a manifesto to boost economic growth.
Impact on the proposed e-invoicing reform
We expect that the result of the recent elections may impact the agenda of the Independent Public Revenue Authority (IPRA) on how Greece will implement its envisaged e-invoicing reform.
The IPRA, which has authority over all tax matters in the country, is also the architect behind a recent proposal for a nationwide e-invoicing and reporting framework. Being an independent authority and not subject to any form of government oversight or control, the IPRA shouldn’t be affected by the outcome of the parliamentary elections; however, its policy might change depending on how strict the new government will be with tax controls and enforcement in its efforts to combat VAT fraud and close the country’s VAT gap.
Before making any predictions, it is worth noting that the IPRA first envisaged an e-invoicing mandate similar to what was rolled out in Italy during 2018-2019. However, just like Italy, Greece would in this situation need to seek and obtain EU approval ahead of such a reform. An Italy-like EU derogation would not only take time but may also be more difficult for Greece to obtain as it lacks the technical B2G e-invoicing infrastructure that Italy already had in place. It has instead moved ahead with another model based on e-reporting and bookkeeping within the tax administration’s online platform. Essentially, this model is a combination of supplier-driven reporting of basic invoice data combined with buyer-side requirements for validating the data with various accounting information. The process will also update the online ledgers held by the IPRA. This model stops short of real-time ‘clearance’ of electronic invoices, but the IPRA has stated that this Latin American style approach is ultimately their goal for the country.
IPRA has announced that the reporting and bookkeeping model will be implemented in January 2020 but as the country is facing political change in the coming months, this deadline appears unrealistic.
Although it is difficult to predict whether or not Greece will move ahead with the proposed e-reporting and bookkeeping framework, it is much less likely that the authorities will change the scope or specifics of the invoice data to be sent to the tax administration in the future reporting scheme. While implementation directions may change, the shift in focus from traditional compliance and audit to more continuous transaction controls in real or near-real time is significant. This trend is gaining momentum across Europe and is politically unstoppable as more and more governments take measures to combat fraud and make tax controls more effective.