The global trend in the e-invoicing sphere for the past decade has shown that legislators and local tax authorities worldwide are rethinking the invoice creation process. By introducing technologically sophisticated continuous transaction control (CTC) platforms tax authorities get immediate and detailed control over VAT, which has proven a very efficient way to reduce the VAT gap.
However, many common law countries, that don’t have a VAT system, including the United States, Australia and New Zealand, haven’t followed the same path. They have stood out in international comparisons by providing little regulation in the field of e-invoicing. The reason why there is no need to have control over the invoices is the lack of a VAT tax regime. Recent developments, however, indicate that also common law countries try to spur e-invoicing, driven by the business process efficiencies rather than the need for tax control. Accordingly, the upcoming developments will be addressed in this blog, focusing on the Unites States e-invoicing pilot program and the Australian and New Zealand initiatives to promote e-invoicing.
E-invoicing has been permitted for a very long time in the United States but is still not widespread business practice. According to some sources, e-invoicing currently only amounts to 25% of all invoices exchanged in the country. With the introduction of the Business Payments Coalition (BPC) e-invoicing pilot program in cooperation with the Federal Reserve, this may be about to change.
The BPC’s e-Invoice Exchange Market Pilot aims to promote faster B2B communication and provide an opportunity for all kinds of businesses to exchange e-invoices in the US.
The BPC e-Invoice Exchange Market Pilot
The pilot program is a standardised e-invoicing network across which structured e-invoices can be exchanged between counterparties using various interoperable invoicing systems to connect and exchange documents. It’s intended to drive efficiency and productivity while reducing data errors. A federated registry services model enables authorised administrators or registrars to register and onboard participants into the e-invoice exchange framework.
The e-invoice exchange framework operates similarly to the email ecosystem. Users can sign up with an email provider to send and receive emails. The provider serves as an access point to email exchanges for their users and delivers emails between them over the internet. It allows multiple registrars to register participants within the e-invoice exchange framework. This is reminiscent of the globally established PEPPOL model, which standardizes the structure of an invoice as well as provides a framework for interoperability.
The US is following the European e-invoicing model based on open interoperability functionality. It enables parties using various invoicing systems to connect and exchange documents through the e-invoicing network easily. The digitization process in the e-invoicing sphere will enable large and small organisations in the US to save resources, promote sustainability and provide business efficiency.
Australia and New Zealand
Similarly, to the US, the move towards e-invoicing in Australia and New Zealand is not primarily driven by tax issues but process efficiency. Neither country has any plans concerning a traditional B2B e-invoicing mandate. However, the New Zealand and Australian governments have committed to a joint approach to e-invoicing, and the first steps are ensuring that all government entities can receive e-invoices.
In Australia, all commonwealth government agencies must be able to receive PEPPOL e-invoices from 1 July 2022. Moreover, the government also seeks to boost e-invoicing in the B2B space without the traditional mandate for businesses to invoice electronically. Instead, the proposal is to implement what is referred to as Business e-Invoicing Right (BER).
Under the government’s proposal, businesses would have the right to request that their trading parties send an e-invoice over the PEPPOL network instead of traditional paper invoices. Businesses need to set up their systems to be able to receive PEPPOL e-invoices. Once a business has this capability, it would be able to exercise its ‘right’ and request other companies to send them PEPPOL e-invoices.
This reform is expected to be introduced in July 2023, by which businesses will be able to request to receive PEPPOL e-invoices only from large businesses, followed by a staged roll-out to eventually cover all businesses by 1 July 2025.
Following the Australian e-invoicing reform from July 2022 for the B2G sector, the New Zealand Government is encouraging businesses and government agencies to adopt e-invoicing. One step in this direction is the possibility for all central government agencies to be able to receive e-invoices based on PEPPOL BIS Billing 3.0 since 31 March 2022.
Outside of these B2G requirements, there are currently no published plans to move the full economy to mandatory e-invoicing.
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