On 30 January 2022, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA) published an announcement on its official web page concerning penalties for violations of VAT rules, and it is currently only available in Arabic. As part of the announcement, the previous fines have been amended, ushering in a more cooperative and educational approach for penalizing taxpayers for their non-compliance with VAT rules than previously.
What’s the new approach?
If ZATCA officials detect a violation during a field visit, the taxpayer will first be given a warning about the violation without any penalty. The ZATCA aims to raise awareness instead of penalizing taxpayers for their first violation. Taxpayers will be granted three months to comply and make necessary changes in their processes.
If non-compliance continues after the first inspection, the taxpayer will be fined 1.000 Riyals, roughly 267 USD. The penalty charge will gradually increase if the taxpayer fails to comply with the rules and doesn’t make necessary changes within three months after the notice.
The fine for each additional repetition time will be as follows: 5.000 Riyals for the third time, 10.000 Riyals for the fourth time and 40.000 Riyals for the fifth time. If the same violation is repeated 12 months after its discovery, it is considered a new violation, and the process will begin with a warning without a fine.
What are the violations of e-invoicing?
According to the announcement, the violations of e-invoicing rules will be penalized per the new procedure described above. The instances that require a notice/fine are slightly different than the initial violations described previously and highlighted as follows:
- Not issuing and storing invoices electronically
- Not including a QR code
- Non-compliance with keeping electronic invoices and electronic notes in the form stipulated
- Not notifying the authority of any malfunction that hinders the issuance of electronic invoices
- Deleting or modifying electronic invoices after their issuance
- Including any of the prohibited functions in the e-invoicing solutions
- Violation of any other provision of electronic invoicing.
The ZATCA states that the new approach ensures proportionality between the violation and the penalty imposed on taxpayers while giving taxpayers a chance to comply within a specific time frame. Considering that the introduction of both VAT and mandatory e-invoicing is fairly recent in the country, there are certain aspects that are unclear for taxpayers. This approach will educate businesses and is expected to be welcomed by stakeholders.