Northern Europe Continuous Transaction Controls Update

Enis Gencer
October 4, 2022

The recent EU Commission report on the VAT in the Digital Age Initiative indicates that continuous transaction controls (CTCs) will become more prevalent across Europe. The final report suggests introducing an EU-wide CTC e-invoicing system covering both intra-EU and domestic transactions as the best policy option. While Eastern European countries have been at the forefront of local implementations, acting swiftly and introducing CTCs, it’s also worth keeping an eye on some of the developments in Northern Europe.

Germany

Following the 2021 national elections, the new coalition government in Germany  identified  VAT fraud as a policy question. It announced its intention to introduce a nationwide electronic reporting system as soon as possible, which will be used for the creation, checking, and forwarding of invoices. Although there are no details about the nature of the system, discussions are ongoing with stakeholders from the private sector, mainly focusing on the implementation timeline and the government’s role in such a system.

B2G e-invoicing has been mandatory for invoices issued to the federal administration since 2020. The scope was expanded from 1 January 2022 to include state-owned authorities in Baden-Wurttemberg, Hamburg, and Saarland, with the next states joining in 2023 and 2024. Moreover, the IT Planning Council, the Central Body for the digitization of administration in Germany, issued the decision 2022/31  advising all contracting authorities to accept electronic invoices via the PEPPOL network by 1 October 2023 to connect the entire public area in a uniform manner.

Denmark

Denmark is also aiming to introduce new requirements to digitize the business processes of Danish companies. On 19 May 2022, the Danish Parliament passed a new accounting law requiring taxpayers to make their bookings electronically using a digital accounting system. The mandate will take effect gradually between 2024 and 2026, depending on the company’s form and turnover.

While the new accounting law doesn’t introduce any mandatory e-invoicing or CTC obligations, it is envisaged that the digital accounting systems must support continuous registration of the company’s transactions and the automation of administrative processes, including automatic transmission and receipt of e-invoices. The Ministry of Finance has been authorised to adopt rules requiring companies to register purchase and sales transactions with electronic invoices as the documentation of the transactions, which in practice would amount to an e-invoicing mandate.

The Danish Business Authority, Erhvervsstyrelsen, has prepared drafts for three executive orders concerning the new digital bookkeeping requirements. According to draft regulations, digital accounting systems are required to support the automatic sending and receiving of e-invoices in OIOUBL and PEPPOL BIS format. These systems must be able to share the company’s accounting data by generating a standard file, which is the Danish SAF-T Standard recently published by Erhvervsstyrelsen.

The draft regulations will be available for public consultation until 27 October and the requirements are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2023. There will be a conversion period until 1 October 2023 for digital accounting systems to comply with the requirements.

Sweden

Sweden is another country looking at introducing digital reporting requirements. The Swedish Tax Administration, Skatteverket, is considering different ways to ensure the correct collection of VAT while obtaining useful economic data from businesses. The project is still at an early phase, and while such requirements could mean introducing Standard Tax Audit File (SAF-T) requirements or a type of CTC, e-reporting, or e-invoicing, the tax authorities would still strive to implement a smooth system for businesses.

Latvia

The Latvian Ministry of Finance has been working on digitizing invoicing processes for a while. They conducted a public consultation and took into consideration opinions of companies and non-governmental organizations to find out the readiness to start using e-invoices in Latvia.

As a result, the Ministry of Finance prepared a report discussing the current situation and the implementation of e-invoices, and possible technological solutions. The report focuses on different e-invoicing systems, such as post-audit e-invoicing, centralised e-invoicing, and decentralised e-invoicing, comparing the advantages and disadvantages of such systems.

The report favours the PEPPOL BIS standard for the introduction of mandatory e-invoicing in B2B and B2G transactions and proposes the use of e-invoices must be defined as an obligation in Latvian regulations, setting a mandatory requirement for the use of e-invoices to start no later than 2025.

The Latvian government approved the report, and the necessary regulatory acts, hence implementation of technological solutions are expected to take shape in due course.

What’s next?

It’s clear that CTC initiatives are becoming increasingly popular among governments and tax authorities in Europe, with the Northern European countries starting to follow this trend, even if they seem to be acting more cautiously. It will be very interesting to see how and when these CTC projects take shape and be affected by the upcoming results from the EU Commission on the VAT in the Digital Age project.

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Author

Enis Gencer

Enis Gencer is Regulatory Counsel at Sovos and is based in Istanbul, Turkey. With experience in compliance and legal consultancy he currently undertakes the legal monitoring and analysis of the regulations regarding electronic documents. Enis graduated from Istanbul University Faculty of Law.
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