The Data Partner You Didn’t Ask for is Now in Charge

Steve Sprague
November 4, 2022

Imagine this scenario.

Your business partner changes the rules on you mid-stream and your ability to conduct business with them is now contingent on changing your entire reporting structure to meet their new demands.

Oh yeah, I should also mention the time frame to meet these demands is extremely tight and if you don’t, you can forget about doing business in their region until you get it right. And if at any point moving forward you fail to live up to these standards, they can fine you or shut you down.

Sound farfetched? It isn’t. It’s exactly what is playing out in major economic markets from Brazil to Italy and parts of Asia and Africa. You see, governments have caught up to businesses when it comes to technology, and in many ways, they have moved past them when it comes to digitization.

What does this mean for you?

It means that governments have now taken on a more proactive approach to reviewing financial transactions and are demanding real-time reporting. As part of that, they have implemented real-time enforcement to ensure that it’s meeting the proper mandated specifications. To accomplish this, they have taken up permanent residence within your data stack. And make no mistake, when it comes to e-invoicing, they are calling the shots.

A bit of background.

Governments throughout the world are implementing mandated e-invoicing for its ability to facilitate compliance and track fraud quickly and efficiently. After the fact reporting, which had been the norm until now, was more difficult to enforce and took lengthy and costly audits to recoup what was rightfully owed. Many organizations didn’t take the penalties seriously and would simply set aside some money to deal with these inconveniences as they emerged.

This approach resulted in a tax gap that is continuing to grow. In 2019, the VAT gap of the European Union’s 28 member states was over 134.4 billion euros for all member states combined. This had become unsustainable and unacceptable to many governments and thus a new technology that focused on digitization was made to ensure that all legally owed revenue was being collected timely and in full. Failure to comply would lead to faster and more impactful enforcement measures.

This trend is growing rapidly with countries across the globe adopting new mandates and methodologies for tracking and enforcing the rules. In the next five years nearly every country that employs the VAT system of taxation is expected to update their systems to some degree.

Make no mistake. Due to the demands for real-time information, this is an IT problem, not a tax issue. For multinational companies that do business in dozens of countries, there could be some painful moments along the way if they don’t plan early and develop a sound strategy for each of the locations in which they have operations.

Here is my advice for meeting government mandates and ensuring operations continue uninterrupted. 

IT should focus on the end goal: implementing a centralized approach to managing these government mandated e-invoicing laws to ensure a globally consistent approach to all digital filings. I can’t overstate the importance of implementation synergies as requirements increase and expand. This is only going to get more complex as time goes on.

And perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is complicated stuff that is changing by the day. This is not the time or the issue to try going it on your own.

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Author

Steve Sprague

As chief strategy officer, Steve Sprague drives corporate strategy, go to market initiatives, and field enablement for the company’s global value added tax (GVAT) business. Steve’s leadership style follows his core belief that for organizations to be successful, they must commit to and invest in the three strategic anchors of business – people, practices and products.
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