Unlike many other country initiatives that we have seen in the e-invoicing space recently, Australia does not seem to have any immediate plans to introduce continuous transaction controls (CTC) or government-portal involvement in their B2B invoicing.
Judging from the recent public consultation, current efforts are focused on ways to accelerate business adoption of electronic invoicing. This consultation builds on the government’s previous outreach undertaken in November 2020 on “Options for the mandatory adoption of e-invoicing by businesses”, which led to a serious government effort to enhance the value of e-invoicing for businesses and increase business awareness and adoption.
In addition to a decision to make it mandatory for all commonwealth government agencies to receive PEPPOL e-invoices from 1 July 2022, the Australian government seeks to also boost e-invoicing in the B2B space, but without the traditional mandate for businesses to invoice electronically. Instead, the proposal is to implement the Business e-Invoicing Right (BER).
What Is 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 paper invoices.
To make and receive these requests, businesses need to set up their systems 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.
According to the current proposal, BER would be delivered in three phases, with the first phase to include large businesses, and the later stages to include small and medium-sized businesses. The possible rollout of BER would be as follows:
- From 1 July 2023: All businesses would have the right to request PEPPOL e-invoices from large businesses. Large businesses would have a legal obligation to provide PEPPOL e-invoice on receipt of a valid request.
- From 1 July 2024: All businesses would have the right to request PEPPOL e-invoices from medium-sized and large businesses. Medium-sized and large businesses would have a legal obligation to provide PEPPOL e-invoices on receipt of a valid request.
- From 1 July 2025: All businesses would have the right to request PEPPOL e-invoices. All covered businesses would have the legal obligation to provide PEPPOL e-invoices on receipt of a valid request.
Further measures to support e-invoicing adoption
The objective of the Australian BER initiative to boost the adoption of B2B e-invoicing is complemented by a proposal for several other initiatives supporting businesses in this direction. One measure would be the enabling of PEPPOL-compatible EDI networks. As EDI networks represent a barrier to broader adoption of PEPPOL e-invoicing, particularly for small businesses that interact with large businesses that use multiple EDI systems, the proposal to enable PEPPOL-compatible EDI networks could ultimately reduce costs for businesses currently interacting with multiple EDI networks. Furthermore, the government is contemplating expanding e-invoicing into Procure-to-Pay. Businesses may realise more value from adopting e-invoicing if the focus grows to embrace an efficient and standardised P2P process that includes e-invoicing.
Finally, integrating e-invoicing with payments is another proposed means to boost e-invoicing. This would allow businesses to efficiently receive invoices from suppliers directly into their accounting software and then pay those invoices through their payment systems.
How efficient the proposed measures will be in accelerating adoption of e-invoicing, and whether the Australian government will feel it was the right decision not to introduce a proper e-invoicing mandate, as is becoming more and more common globally, remains to be seen.
Need help staying up to date with the latest VAT and compliance updates in Australia that may impact your business? Get in touch with Sovos’ team of experts today.