Sovos recently hosted an online webinar on VAT recovery where we covered reciprocity agreements between the UK and EU Member States when making 13th Directive VAT refund claims. One of the questions that kept coming up is what are reciprocity agreements and why do they matter?

Reciprocity

When making 13th Directive refund claims, each EU Member State has different rules or conditions to meet before agreeing to a VAT refund. One of the conditions that EU Member States may require is a reciprocity agreement. A reciprocity agreement is a deal to reciprocate VAT refunds between two countries.

Therefore, VAT is only refundable when a similar tax is refundable for local businesses in the applicant’s country. For example, suppose a Spanish business was allowed to obtain a VAT refund in Norway through a similar scheme to the 13 Directive. In that case, Spain would likely have reciprocity with Norway and will allow the Norwegian businesses to make a 13th Directive Refund Claim in Spain.

There are currently around 19 EU Member States that require reciprocity agreements for non-EU businesses to make VAT refund claims. Of those, Greece and Slovenia currently only have reciprocity agreements with two countries (Norway and Switzerland), whilst Italy has three (Norway, Switzerland and Israel). When making EU VAT refund claims, businesses should review reciprocity and not assume they will automatically be approved.

UK businesses

Before Brexit, UK businesses could make VAT refund claims through the EU VAT Refund Directive (also known as the 8th Directive) which was built to allow reciprocity freedom for all EU Member States. However, post-Brexit, this mechanism for VAT refund claims no longer applied, and the UK fell within the 13th Directive Refund Scheme as a non-EU business.

Whilst the UK and EU have a Free Trade and Cooperation Agreement in place, there was no specific mention of reciprocity in VAT refund claims as these should be agreed between those particular EU Member States and the UK. Therefore, it may be more difficult for UK businesses, that make refund claims around the EU, to recover VAT incurred in some countries.

Regarding current reciprocity agreements with the UK, the only official announcements we have seen to date have been from Germany, Spain and Hungary. However, we are aware of ongoing discussions between the UK and other EU Member States.

HMRC states they will only refuse a claim if the reciprocal country has a scheme for refunding taxes but refuses to allow UK traders a refund. Therefore, HMRC is willing to allow VAT recovery in the UK for EU businesses providing UK businesses receive the same treatment as the EU. It would therefore be in the interests of EU Member States to allow VAT recovery for UK businesses for businesses in their own country to benefit from the same treatment.

Why does it matter?

Most EU Member States require reciprocity when making VAT refund claims. Therefore, the law of reciprocity is an integral factor when looking to make a VAT refund claim in any jurisdiction. It’s important to understand these reciprocity laws to prevent wasting time and money on making a VAT refund claim from a country that doesn’t allow it.

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Our previous articles covered audit trends we have noticed at Sovos and common triggers of a VAT audit. This article discusses the best practices on how to prepare for a VAT audit.

Each country and jurisdiction may have different laws and requirements related to the VAT audit process. Tax authorities can carry out audits in person or by correspondence, the latter often being the case for non-established businesses in the country in question.

A business may be audited at random or because there are reasons for the tax authority to believe that there is a problem with the company’s VAT return.

Generally speaking, authorities use audits and inspections to verify the accuracy of taxpayers’ declarations, identify possible errors or underpayments, and approve refunds.

As discussed in our previous article, to understand how to best prepare for a VAT audit, it’s essential to identify the reason why the audit was initiated.

What items are needed for a VAT audit?

Although specific checklists are available depending on the country of the audit, there are several actions that a business can carry out to prepare for an VAT audit. The most important of which is to collect documents and answers in advance. Frequently requested items during an audit include:

It is important that records of the above-listed documents, where applicable, are kept in line with local record keeping requirements. The need to prepare these documents in advance and the ability to produce them quickly becomes essential when a company is, for example, due to request the refund of VAT credits, to submit a de-registration or has, in general, any reason to expect for an audit to be initiated.

Authorities can open a cross check of activities with the company’s customers and suppliers, which will be initiated in parallel to the audit to verify that the information provided from both sides is consistent. Therefore, it is recommended to inform suppliers about any ongoing audit, communicate any questions or clarify outstanding queries. If, for example, a correction of invoices appears to be necessary, these should be finalised already in preparation for the VAT audit.

The tax authorities may impose very short and strict deadlines once an audit is initiated. Although it may be possible to request an extension, it is not necessarily guaranteed to be granted. In certain circumstances, authorities may impose penalties for late responses. Providing a clear and understandable set of documents to the tax office queries is essential to avoid any detrimental effects.

Why it makes sense to plan ahead

The advantages of preparing for a VAT audit can be summarised as follows:

Whether a business decides to handle the audit in-house or request the support of an external advisor, it is essential to consider the consequences of the audit, especially if high amounts of VAT to recover are at stake. In the event of an audit, the main objective should be to resolve it successfully and quickly, limiting as much as possible any detrimental impact to the business.

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Indonesia’s VAT requirements

Indonesia’s e-invoicing system and continuous transaction controls

After experiencing challenges in its tax control system, Indonesia adopted an e‑invoicing system, locally known as e‑Faktur. Leveraging data reported in real-time via continuous transaction controls (CTCs) allows the Indonesian tax authorities to reduce occurrences of fraud whilst helping to close the tax gap.

Have questions? Get in touch with a Sovos Indonesia CTC expert.

CTC reforms

Introduced in 2014 and effective from 2016, Indonesia’s e‑invoicing system seeks to combat the tax gap. Indonesia’s solution was the implementation of an invoice clearance system, where invoices must be approved by the local tax authority prior to being sent to a customer.

Quick facts

  • E-invoicing has been mandatory for all corporate VAT taxpayers since July 2016.
  • E-invoices (e-Faktur Pajak or e-FP) should be created by applications and systems prescribed by the Director of Taxation (DGT). These include client desktop, web-based and host-to-host applications.
  • Electronic signatures are required for the issuance of e-invoices.
  • It’s compulsory for all invoices to be processed and issued electronically via the government hosted eFaktur platform. The submission platform for the VAT return has been integrated with the e-invoicing platform.
  • Electronic certificates are required to verify taxpayer identity and are valid for two years.
  • Activation code and password are required for access to e-Nofa to request electronic tax invoice serial numbers.
  • Using e-Faktur, VAT returns are periodically submitted (typically monthly).

Mandate rollout dates

2014 – e-Faktur Pajak introduced

2016 – e-Faktur Pajak became effective

1 October 2020 – New e-Faktur Pajak version 3.0 released

How can Sovos help?

Need help to ensure your business stays compliant with the e-invoicing obligations in Indonesia?

Our experts continually monitor, interpret and codify changes into our software, reducing the compliance burden on your tax and IT teams.

Learn how Sovos’ solution for VAT compliance changes can help companies stay compliant in Indonesia and around the world.

Israel E-Invoicing

Plans for a continuous transaction controls system

In an effort to combat VAT fraud, Israel is undergoing a tax reform. Currently under an EU-based post-audit approach, Israeli authorities have announced their ambition to move towards the more Latin American-style of continuous transaction controls (CTCs) where invoices are approved prior to their issuance. The details of the proposed system, as well as a timeline for roll-out, have yet to be published.

Get the information you need

CTC Reforms

Israel is currently in the process of moving away from a post-audit approach to VAT. We expect to learn more about the details of the new CTC regime in the near future.

Quick Facts

  • E-invoicing is currently permitted in Israel provided it’s prominently stated on the invoice that it is a ‘computerized document’
  • A digital signature is required to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the invoice
  • Storage of e-invoices must be within Israel unless derogation has been granted. This rule also applies to the mandatory backups
  • Outsourcing of archiving also requires derogation

Need help to ensure your business stays compliant with evolving CTC obligations in Israel?

Our experts continually monitor, interpret and codify complex legal and technical changes into our software solutions, keeping you up-to-date and reducing the compliance burden on your tax and IT teams. Learn how Sovos’ VAT solutions help companies stay compliant in Israel and around the world.

It’s no surprise that inflation is on the forefront of everyone’s mind, with prices continuing to sky-rocket month by month. Data from the United Kingdom shows that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation jumped to a 40-year high of 9% in the past 12 months. Governments around the world are looking for ways to reduce the burden for consumers to keep global economies afloat. One method – implementing VAT rate cuts to certain goods and services – looks to be coming out on top as multiple countries around the world announced emergency budget sessions or introduced proposals to temporarily cut VAT rates.

Temporary VAT rate cuts are generally quick and easy to implement, which is why they are favored by governments globally. These cuts essentially allow for a boost to the economy by providing consumers with an overall higher amount to spend, incentivizing consumers to spend now while rates are lower.

Country proposals for VAT rate cuts

As expected, many countries have already announced VAT rate cuts or measures to stimulate their economies:

Additional countries such as Estonia, Netherlands, Latvia, Greece, and Turkey are also taking measures to implement VAT rate cuts to fight the ever-rising costs for consumers.

These VAT rate cuts coincide with new measures passed recently by the European Commission allowing Member States to apply reduced rates to more items, including food. Though many Member States seem to be moving towards taking advantage of this new flexibility on VAT rate reductions, it’s expected that as costs continue to rise more Member States and countries around the world will introduce VAT rate cuts to ensure consumer spending doesn’t continue to trend downward.

Take Action

To find out more about what we believe the future holds, download the 13th Annual Trends. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up-to-date with regulatory news and updates.

Since many audits seem to occur at random, it’s not always possible to identify the reason why a tax office would decide to initiate one.

We’ve previously spoken about an increased interest in audits from the EU and audits for e-commerce. This article covers the most common reasons behind a VAT audit to help businesses anticipate and prepare for one when possible.

Trigger events for VAT audits

There are specific “trigger” events among the most common reasons that could cause further queries from the tax office. Generally speaking, these are changes in the company’s status such as a new registration, a de-registration, or structural changes within the company.

VAT refund requests also fall into this category. In some countries (Italy and Spain, for example) a refund request is almost certainly a reason for an audit to be initiated since the local tax office cannot release the funds before checks are completed. In this case, the likelihood of an audit increases when a refund is particularly substantial and the business requesting it is newly VAT registered. However, it doesn’t mean that the tax authority will not initiate an audit if the amount requested in a refund is relatively small.

Business model

Certain types of businesses are naturally more subject to audits due to their structure and business model. Groups commonly selected for scrutiny include, for example, large companies, exporters, retailers and dealers in high-volume goods. Therefore, elements such as a high number of transactions, high amounts involved and complexity of the business structure could be another common reason for an investigation to be initiated by the local tax authorities.

Taxpayer metrics

Tax authorities often identify individual taxpayers based on past compliance and how their information compares with specific risk parameters. This would include comparing previous data and trading patterns with other businesses in the same sector. Therefore, unusual patterns of trading, discrepancies between input and output VAT reported, and many refund requests may appear unusual from the tax office perspective and give rise to questions.

Cross checks

Another common reason for the tax authorities to request further information from taxpayers is the so-called “cross check of activities”. In this case, either a business supplier or client is likely to be subjected to an audit. The tax office will contact their counterparts to verify that the information provided is consistent on both sides. For example, if a business is being audited following its refund request, the tax office will likely contact the suppliers to verify the audited company didn’t cancel the purchase invoices and that they have been paid.

This category also includes cross checking activities on Intra-Community transactions reported by a business. In this scenario, the cross check would be based on information exchanges between local tax authorities through the VAT information exchange system (VIES). The tax authorities can check Intra-Community transactions reported to and from specific VAT numbers in each EU Member State and then cross check this information with what has been reported by a business on their respective VAT return. If any discrepancy arises, the tax office will likely contact the business to ask why they have (or haven’t) reported the transactions declared by their counterparts.

As we’ve already seen in an earlier article, audit triggers are also influenced by changes in legislation or shifts in the tax authorities’ attention to specific business sectors.

Regardless of whether it’s possible to identify the actual reason the tax authority initiated an audit, a business can undertake several actions in preparation for a check of activities, which will be covered in the next article of this series.

Take Action

Get in touch about the benefits a managed service provider can offer to ease your VAT compliance burden.

In a recent blog, we considered the upcoming changes to the VAT treatment of virtual events. Today, we will consider some of the issues that may arise.

Exemption from VAT

Many hosts currently use the available educational or fundraising exemptions, especially where the delegates are private individuals without the right of deduction, e.g., doctors. For events with physical attendance the host must consider the rules of the Member State where the event is held since that is where the VAT is due.

Under the new rules, a VAT exemption will be less relevant for B2B virtual events where the reverse charge applies as the attendee assesses the charge to tax themselves. However, it will remain relevant where delegates are unable to apply the reverse charge and unable to deduct the VAT charged – e.g. doctors. In such circumstances VAT is due where the doctor normally resides and that is where the exemption must be considered.

These new rules may require the host to assess the availability of the exemption in several Member States and may also require multiple ruling requests to be submitted. This is likely to increase operating costs substantially, and the (unintended) consequence could be that exemptions are not considered to the detriment of delegates.

Hybrid events

Many future events are likely to include virtual attendees since it increases overall attendance at an event, requiring the host to manage two invoicing regimes. There could be issues where one taxpayer has both physical and virtual attendees. In this case, the host will need to issue two invoices – one with local VAT for the physical attendance (and where the exemption may apply) and one where VAT is due in the customer’s Member State and the general reverse charge may apply. The attendance of B2C delegates will further increase this complexity for the host.

What happens if a delegate is invoiced for physical attendance, but changes to virtual attendance at the last minute?

When the host provides the login details for virtual attendance, this may change the place of supply. If the place of supply changes, the host must cancel the original invoice and issue a new invoice with the amended VAT treatment.

Non-EU hosts with B2C events

Where a host currently holds an event with virtual admission for non-taxable EU delegates (e.g. doctors) then the place of supply is where the supplier is established. For a host established outside the EU, no EU VAT is due (ignoring the possibility of use and enjoyment), and it is also likely that no local VAT is due in the host’s own country.

Implementation of the new rules will mean that the host must charge VAT in the Member State where the doctor normally resides. This will not only result in unrecoverable VAT for the doctor but will also increase the compliance costs of the host. Virtually attending such an event in 2025 may become significantly more expensive than in previous years.

Transposition

The article governing the transposition of these changes requires Member States to “adopt and publish” the necessary laws, regulations etc., by 31 December 2024. The changes will then apply from 1 January 2025.

Member States must not break rank and apply these rules before this date. A situation where some Member States adopt and apply the rules early could lead to double taxation, particularly in B2C transactions.

Once the rules are in force on 1 January 2025, several issues could arise. What happens for an event in January 2025 where delegates must pay for admission ahead of time in 2024? Where is VAT accounted for, and under which rules?

For B2B, there should be no issue since the service remains a general rule, but there is a real issue for non-taxable delegates, e.g. doctors.

For example, a US host holds an event where a German doctor will attend virtually. The event is in January 2025, but the delegate must pay the admission fee by 30 November 2024 to secure a place. Under current rules, applicable in 2024, the place of supply is where the supplier is established, so no VAT is due on the invoice. But when the event happens in January 2025, the new rules say that German VAT is due.

The time of supply rules are not affected by these changes but could a tax authority seek to change these to increase its tax revenue? For example, Greek VAT law says that the tax point is when the event takes place – not when the invoice is issued/payment received. So, in the above example, Greek VAT would be due for a Greek B2C delegate.

Reduced VAT rates

When considering the taxation of virtual events, the new rules state that in view of the digital transformation of the economy, it should be possible for Member States to provide the same treatment of live-streamed activities, including events, as those which are eligible for reduced rates when attended in person. To enable this, the annex detailing which services can benefit from a reduced rate will be amended to include admission to:

This change means that events that are live streamed can benefit from a reduced VAT rate. Though the changes to the place of supply rules refer to “virtual attendance” for B2B and “streamed or made virtually available” for B2C.

Are we to assume that “virtual attendance” = “live streamed”? But “streaming” can be live or recorded. Do these changes also cause an issue for VAT rate determination?

If a delegate watches an event live, then a reduced rate is possible. If the same event is watched via downloading a recording later, then the reduced rate is not possible. If one fee gives a delegate the right to attend the event virtually and download the event for future reference, then the concept of a mixed supply may be relevant.

Take Action

Get in touch to discuss your VAT compliance needs or download our guide, Understanding VAT Obligations: European Events.

A recent report released by the European Commission has stressed the need for Member States to increase the number of audits they undertake, particularly in e-commerce businesses. The European Commission specifically highlighted the need for Malta, Austria and France to make additional efforts to improve their value-added tax audit practices. They highlighted the seriousness of the issue and that the consequences of inaccurate VAT reporting can be severe. VAT audits, therefore, promote accurate reporting and mitigate fraud, and as such, they are being encouraged by the Commission.

A strategic approach to VAT Audits

The European Commission specifically stated that tax authorities should have a strategic approach which must observe multiple elements, including:

The report notes some of the positive actions taken by Member States. Generally, they pay close attention to the audit process, with Finland and Sweden highlighted as particularly good. Furthermore, the report notes that some Member States have established special “VAT task forces” to deal with audits.

Following this report, the European Commission also announced that Norway should be authorised to participate in joint audits with their counterparts in the EU as a further measure to crack down on fraud.

Approach and scope of audits to be extended

E-commerce is a good example of an area that continues to grow, with the VAT stake ever increasing. With tax authorities globally struggling to keep pace with new technology and consumer offerings, local tax authorities are implementing further measures to ensure that fraud is combatted at an EU-wide level. Whether further changes occur through a difference in how VAT is reported or new forms of reporting such as continuous transaction controls (CTCs) that are in place in some Member States already, VAT audits are at the heart of this strategic plan. In this report, the European Commission has clarified that the approach and scope of audits should be extended.

With increased Member States co-operation and new measures adopted by the European Commission, such as the implementing regulation that provides details on how payment providers should start providing harmonised data to tax authorities from 2024, businesses should ensure that they have adequate controls in place to be able to handle any audit request. Future blogs in this series will focus on the audit trends we’ve noticed at Sovos and how businesses should prepare for an audit.

Take Action

For more information about how Sovos’ VAT Managed Services can help ease your business’s VAT compliance burden, contact our team today.

Eastern European countries are taking new steps concerning the implementation of continuous transaction controls (CTC) systems to reduce the VAT gap and combat tax fraud. This blog provides you with information on the latest developments in several Eastern European countries that may further shape the establishment of CTC systems in other European countries and beyond.

Poland

Previously announced on 1 January 2022, taxpayers have been able to issue structured invoices (e-invoices) using Poland’s National e-Invoicing System (KSeF) voluntarily, meaning electronic and paper forms are still acceptable in parallel. On 30 March 2022, the European Commission announced the derogatory decision from Article 218 and Article 232 of Directive 2006/112/EC. The decision will apply from 1 April 2023 until 31 March 2026, after receiving the last approval from the EU Council. Moreover, on 7 April 2022, the Ministry of Finance published the test version of the KSeF taxpayer application that enabled the management of authorisations issuing and receiving invoices from KSeF. The mandatory phase of the mandate is expected to begin the second quarter of 2023, 1 April 2023.

Romania

The Romanian CTC system is one of the fastest developing in Eastern Europe, with the E-Factura system being available for B2G transactions since November 2021. Based on the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 41, published in the official gazette on 11 April 2022, the use of the system will become mandatory for transporting high fiscal risk goods domestically as of July 2022.

Moreover, Draft Law on the approval of the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 120/2021 on the administration, operation, and implementation of the national e-invoicing system (Draft Law) on 20 April 2022 was published by The Romanian Chamber of Deputies. According to the Draft Law, the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) will issue an order in 30 days following the derogation decision from EU VAT Directive and establish the scope and the timeline of the B2B e-invoicing mandate. As derived from the proposed amendments, B2G e-invoicing will become mandatory as of 1 July 2022, and mandatory e-invoicing for all B2B transactions is in the pipeline.

Serbia

Serbia has introduced a CTC platform called Sistem E-Faktura (SEF) and an additional system to help taxpayers with the processing and storage of invoices called the Sistem za Upravljanje Fakturama (SUF).

To start using the CTC system Sistem E-Faktura (SEF) provided by the Serbian Ministry of Finance, a taxpayer must register through the dedicated portal: eID.gov.rs. SEF is a clearance portal for sending, receiving, capturing, processing and storing structured electronic invoices. The recipient must accept or reject an invoice within fifteen days from the day of receipt of the electronic invoice.

The CTC system became mandatory on 1 May 2022 for the B2G sector, where all suppliers in the public sector must send invoices electronically. The Serbian government must be able to receive and store them from 1 July 2022. Additionally, all taxpayers will be obliged to receive and store e-invoices, and from ​1 January 2023, all taxpayers must issue B2B e-invoices​.

Slovakia

The Slovakian government announced its CTC system called Electronic Invoice Information System (IS EFA, Informačný systém elektronickej fakturácie) in 2021 through draft legislation.

The CTC e-invoicing covers B2G, B2B and B2C transactions and will be conducted via the electronic invoicing information system (IS EFA).

The official legislation regulating the e-invoicing system has not been published yet although it is expected to be published soon. However, the Ministry of Finance has recently posted new dates concerning the implementation of the electronic solution:

The second phase will follow for B2B and B2C transactions.

Slovenia

Slovenia has not progressed in introducing its CTC system. Due to the national elections in April 2022, the CTC reform was not expected to gain much traction until at least the summer of 2022. Nevertheless, there are still ongoing discussions around the CTC reform, which intensified soon after the Slovenian parliamentary elections.

The fast pace of the developments happening within Eastern European countries brings challenges. The lack of clarity and last-minute changes makes it even harder for taxpayers to stay compliant in these jurisdictions.

Take Action

Staying compliant with CTC changes throughout Eastern Europe is easier with help from Sovos’ team of VAT experts. Get in touch or download the 13th Annual Trends report to keep up with the changing regulatory landscape.

Events and conferences typically take a long time to organise and in the early part of 2020 several events that were scheduled to take place were impossible because of the various Covid-19 restrictions. Looking at a loss of revenue, and not knowing how long restrictions would last, many hosts went online and hosted virtual events. This changed both the nature and the place of the supply.

Where there is physical attendance at an event then the place of supply is the place where the event takes place for all delegates.

For B2B delegates the current rules mean that virtual admission will be classified as a general rule service so VAT is due where the customer is established.

For B2C delegates the current rules depend on whether the virtual attendance can be considered an electronically delivered service or a general rule service. For electronically delivered services supplied the place of supply is where the customer normally resides and for other services the place of supply is where the supplier is established.

An electronically delivered service is one which can be delivered without any human intervention such as downloading and watching a pre-recorded presentation. Where a service requires human intervention, this is not considered to be electronically delivered.

Online conferences and events typically have a host or compere and will normally also allow delegates to ask questions in real-time via live chat or similar. The human dimension excludes the possibility of this being classified as an electronically delivered service which means that for B2B the place of supply is where the customer is established and for B2C the place of supply is where the host is established.

Future tax position regarding events with virtual attendance

The changes are being introduced to ensure taxation in the Member State of consumption. To achieve this, it is necessary for all services that can be supplied to a customer by electronic means to be taxable at the place where the customer is established, has his permanent address or usually resides. This means that it is necessary to modify the rules governing the place of supply of services relating to such activities.

The changes apply to “services that can be supplied by electronic means” but this is not defined. It would appear, from the following to be wider than “electronically delivered”.

To achieve this the current law governing attendance by B2B delegates which results in VAT being due where the event is held will specifically exclude admission where the attendance is virtual.

This suggests that “supplied to a customer by electronic means” occurs when attendance is virtual and has the effect of removing the distinction of “human intervention” in respect of electronically delivered services.

The law governing B2C sales will state that where activities are “streamed or otherwise made virtually available”, the place of supply is where the customer is established.

These changes suggest that “supplied to a customer by electronic means” occurs when the service is streamed or made virtually available. The possibility of streaming (which can be live or recorded) does not appear in the amendment to the B2B rule.

The law governing Use and Enjoyment has also been updated to reflect these additions.

Summary of virtual attendance of events – implications for VAT compliance

For events that are attended virtually the place of supply for both B2B and B2C will be where the customer is established, although this can be amended by application of the Use and Enjoyment rules.

For B2B attendees, the host will not charge local VAT as the reverse charge will apply unless the host and attendee are established in the same Member State.

For B2C attendees the host will charge local VAT according to the location of the attendee. The Union and non-Union OSS will be available to assist reporting where the attendee is in the EU.

Transposition

Member States are required to adopt and publish the required laws, regulations and administrative provisions by 31 December 2024 and must apply these from 1 January 2025.

In our next blog we will consider some practical issues that may arise from these changes and how they impact VAT compliance.

Take Action

Get in touch to discuss your VAT compliance needs or download our guide, Understanding VAT Obligations: European Events.

Over the past decade, the Middle East region has undergone impactful financial and fiscal changes. VAT was introduced as one of the solutions to prevent the impact of decreasing oil prices on the economy after the region’s economic performance started to slow down.

After realising the benefits of VAT to the economy, the next step for most governments is to increase the effectiveness of VAT controls. Currently, most Middle Eastern countries have VAT regimes in place. Like many countries, Middle Eastern countries are paving the way to introduce continuous transaction controls (CTC) regimes to achieve an efficient VAT control mechanism.

E-invoicing in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia is leading the way, introducing its e-invoicing system in 2021. This e-invoicing framework, in its current form, doesn’t require taxpayers to submit VAT relevant data to the tax authority in real-time. However, that is about to change, as the Saudi tax authority will enforce CTC e-invoicing requirements from 1 January 2023. This means that taxpayers will be required to transmit their invoices to the tax authority platform in real-time. More details on the upcoming CTC regime are expected to be published by the ZATCA.

The introduction of the CTC concept in Saudi Arabia is expected to create a domino effect in the region; some signs already indicate this. Recently, the Omani tax authority issued a request for information that revealed their plans to introduce an e-invoicing system. The tax authority’s invitation to interested parties stated that the timelines for implementing the system have not been set yet and could involve a gradual rollout. The objective is to roll out the e-invoicing system in a phased manner. The e-invoicing system is expected to go live in 2023 on a voluntary basis and later on a compulsory basis.

The Bahrainian National Bureau for Revenue (NBR) has made similar efforts. The NBR requested taxpayers to take part in a survey asking the number of invoices generated annually and whether taxpayers currently generate invoices electronically. This development signals upcoming e-invoicing plans – or at least a first step in that direction.

In Jordan, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship (MODEE) published a “Prequalification Document for Selection of System Provider for E-Invoicing & Integrated Tax Administration Solution” that was, in fact, a request for information. The tax authority in Jordan previously communicated its goal to introduce e-invoicing. As the recent developments suggest, Jordan is moving closer to having an up and running platform for e-invoicing which will likely be followed by legal changes in the current legislation concerning invoicing rules.

The global future of CTCs

The overall global trend is clearly toward various forms of CTCs. In recent years, VAT controls and their importance and the advantages presented by technology have changed the tax authorities’ approach to the digitization of VAT control mechanisms. As governments in the Middle East countries are also noticing the benefits that the adoption of CTCs could unlock, it’s reasonable to expect a challenging VAT landscape in the region.

Take Action

To find out more about what we believe the future holds, download Trends 13th Edition. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up-to-date with regulatory news and updates.

Lithuania’s VAT Requirements

Lithuania’s SAF-T Mandates Framework

Seeking to modernise and digitize its tax systems, the Lithuanian Customs Office of the State Tax Inspectorate announced sweeping changes to its tax system in 2016 with the introduction of the Standard Audit File for Tax (SAF‑T) and the launch of its online portal, eSaskaita.

Have questions? Get in touch with a Sovos Lithuania SAF-T mandates expert.

SAF-T mandates

SAF-T mandates

Implemented with a phased approach, Lithuania’s SAF‑T mandate became mandatory for all taxpayers in 2020. Whilst there is no periodic SAF‑T reporting, businesses must maintain records for the tax authorities in the event they are requested.

Quick facts on SAF-T mandates

  • E-invoices must be accepted provided its integrity and authenticity can be guaranteed from the point of issuance until the end of the storage period.
  • If an invoice is in electronic form, data ensuring its integrity and authenticity must be stored by electronic means.
  • Suppliers may submit documentation by:
    • Using any certified PEPPOL Access Point with an AS4 Profile
    • Manually keying in the invoice information via an online portal
    • Uploading files in XML format (this requires the economic operator’s accounting system to be suitable for storing e-invoices in this format).
SAF-T mandates
SAF-T mandates
  • Service providers to Lithuanian taxable persons not established in an EU Member State must comply with certain additional requirements regarding the outsourcing of e-invoice issuance.
  • The i.MAS, Lithuania’s “Intelligent Tax Administration System,” comprises three main parts:
    • i.SAF reporting of sales and purchase invoices on a monthly basis
    • i.VAZ reporting of transport/consignment documents
    • i.SAF-T accounting transaction report, which is only required when requested by the tax authority.
  • Full SAF-T files are only submitted upon request of the Lithuanian tax authority.

SAF-T mandates rollout dates

  • 1 Oct 2016 – Requirement to submit data on issued and received VAT invoices began
  • 2016 -2019 – Phased rollout of SAF‑T requirements to Lithuanian businesses dependant on revenue
  • Jan 2020 – All businesses required to comply with SAF‑T mandate
  • 2021 – Management and archiving of documents, including invoices, became a licensed activity and must meet certain requirements for integrity, authenticity, security and management to be certified by the Lithuanian Chief Archivist
SAF-T mandates

How can Sovos help with SAF-T mandates and VAT compliance?

Need help to ensure your business stays compliant with the SAF‑T obligations in Lithuania?

Our experts continually monitor, interpret and codify changes into our software, reducing the compliance burden on your tax and IT teams.

Learn how Sovos’ solution for Lithuanian SAF‑T and other VAT compliance changes can help companies stay compliant.

E-businesses have recently been dealing with the change of rules within the EU with the introduction of the E-Commerce VAT Package but it’s also important to ensure compliance requirements are being met globally. In this blog we look at some of the low value goods regimes that have been introduced over the last few years together with those on the horizon.

Switzerland

Switzerland was one of the first countries outside the EU to introduce a low value goods regime when it revised the Swiss VAT law with effect from 1 January 2018. Previously, import of goods below CHF 62.50 were exempt from Swiss customs duty and import VAT. However, from 1 January 2018 any overseas sellers importing low value goods below CHF62.50 (standard-rated goods) or CHF 200 (reduced rated goods) that breach the CHF 100,000 threshold are required to register for and charge Swiss VAT on the sales of those goods.

Norway

On 1 April 2020, Norway introduced the VAT on E-Commerce (VOEC) scheme for foreign sellers and online marketplaces selling low value goods. These low value goods include those with a value below NOK 3,000 exclusive of shipping and insurance costs. The threshold applies per item and not per invoice, although doesn’t include sales of foodstuffs, alcohol and tobacco as these goods continue to be subject to border collection of VAT, excise duties and customs duties. Any foreign seller that exceeds the threshold of NOK 50,000 has an obligation to register for Norwegian VAT and apply this at the point of sale if they’re registered under the VOEC scheme.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand introduced very similar schemes to collect GST on low value goods being sold by overseas sellers. Australia introduced its scheme on 1 July 2018 for all goods with a customs value of less than AUD 1,000 and a turnover threshold of AUD 75,000 which once breached means the overseas seller must register for Australian GST and charge this at the point of sale.

New Zealand introduced a low value goods scheme on 1 October 2019 and applied this to low value goods valued at less than NZD 1,000. The turnover threshold in New Zealand is NZD 60,000 which once breached requires the overseas seller to register and charge New Zealand GST.

United Kingdom

Following Brexit, the UK abolished the low value goods consignment relief of GBP 15 and introduced a new regime on 1 January 2021 covering imports of goods from outside the UK in consignments not exceeding GBP 135 in value (which aligns with the threshold for customs duty liability). Under these new rules, the point at which VAT is collected moves from the point of importation to the point of sale. This has meant that UK supply VAT, rather than import VAT, will be due on these consignments. Making these supplies requires registration for VAT in the UK from the first sale.

Singapore

Singapore is the latest country to announce it will introduce new rules for low value goods. Effective 1 January 2023, private consumers in Singapore will be required to pay 7% GST on goods valued at SGD 400 or below that are imported into Singapore via air or post (the GST rate will rise to 9% sometime between 2022 to 2025).

An overseas vendor (i.e., supplier, electronic marketplace operator or re-deliverer) will be liable for GST registration where their global turnover and value of B2C supplies of low value goods made to non-GST-registered customers in Singapore exceeds SGD 1 million at the end of any calendar year. It may also be possible to register voluntarily if required.

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Want to ensure compliance with the latest e-commerce VAT requirements across the globe? Get in touch with Sovos’ team of experts today or download Trends Edition 13 to learn about global VAT trends.

ebook

SAF-T Global Standards: An Introduction to the Standard

Understanding the flexible SAF-T global standards adopted by Austria, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal and Romania

SAF-T (Standard Audit File for Tax) is an international standard for the electronic reporting of accounting data from organisations to a national tax authority or external auditors used by tax administrations to gather granular data from businesses either on demand or periodically.

The SAF-T standard has been adopted in mostly European countries, alleviating the need for tax authorities to physically visit companies to extract and review wide-ranging corporate data.

This e-book includes:

  • What is SAF-T? – an exploration of the standard and its origins
  • A deeper dive of the SAF-T format – the current datasets and data requirements
  • The challenges of SAF-T for businesses – the flexibility and wider use of the standard
  • The future of SAF-T – what’s next?
  • How Sovos can help

Get the SAF-T Global Standards e-book

Countries that have introduced legislation to enforce SAF-T requirements include Austria, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Romania. SAF-T requirements are continuing to be adopted in a number of EU Member States and countries in other regions are actively considering introducing it.

The latest SAF-T standard includes accounting, accounts receivable, accounts payable, fixed assets and inventory datasets. In most cases authorities request a text file on an XML structure.

The SAF-T guideline is flexible, enabling governments to freely adapt SAF-T to suit their tax filing and audit systems, to perform audits, or as a basis for prefiling periodic tax declarations such as VAT returns or inventory statements.

This e-book discusses the introduction of SAF-T back in 2005 and how the standard has evolved since then, as well as the challenges of SAF-T for both businesses and governments.

How Sovos can help with SAF-T compliance

Sovos helps customers manage their SAF-T requirements across multiple jurisdictions through software solutions that automate the processes to seamlessly extract required data, map data accurately to SAF-T structures in the latest legal formats and perform deep analysis on the SAF-T output generated.

Sovos provides certainty with a future-proof strategy for tackling compliance obligations across all markets as VAT regulations evolve toward continuous e-reporting and other continuous transaction controls requiring increasingly granular data. Sovos’ solution for SAF-T combines extraction, analysis and generation providing our customers with the certainty they need.

Experience end-to-end handling with compliance peace of mind with Sovos.

Download the e-book

Thailand’s New Approach to Electronic Invoicing

New regulations for e-tax invoicing solutions and receipts expected soon

Thailand’s current e-invoicing legal framework has been in effect since 2012 and follows a post-audit approach.

The Thai Revenue Department and Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) are working together to improve and further develop the e-tax invoicing system. As a result, new regulations on e-tax invoicing and receipts are expected in the future.

Get in touch with a Sovos Thailand electronic invoicing expert.

E-tax invoicing solutions

From 2017, the Thai Revenue Department issued regulations on electronic tax invoices and receipts. Subject to approval, taxpayers can prepare, deliver and keep their e-tax invoices and receipts in electronic format.

Quick facts about Thailand electronic invoicing

  • E-invoices must be digitally signed using a certificate issued by a certification authority and approved by the Thai Revenue Department.
  • E-invoices must be submitted in XML format to the Revenue Department monthly.
  • Outsourcing of e-invoice issuance is allowed provided the third-party service provider is certified by the Thai Revenue Department.

E-tax invoicing rollout dates

  • 2012 – E-invoicing permitted
  • 2017 – New regulations issued on electronic e-tax and receipts.
  • 2020 – EDTA began a certification process for service providers to assess whether applicants’ solutions are secure and compliant.

How can Sovos help with invoicing solutions?

Need help to ensure your business stays compliant with emerging e-invoicing obligations?

Our experts continually monitor, interpret and codify legal changes and requirements into our software solutions, taking care of your indirect tax compliance so you can focus on your core business.

Learn how Sovos’ solutions for continuous transaction controls and VAT compliance obligations can help companies stay compliant.

On 5 April 2022, the EU Council formally adopted changes to the current rules governing reduced VAT rates for goods and services. These amendments to the VAT Directive were published in the Official Journal of the EU on 6 April 2022 through Council (EU) Directive 2022/542 of 5 April 2022 and are effective immediately.

The EU Council approval follows the EU Parliament’s official review of the amendments in March 2022.

New reduced rates

The Council Directive grants Member States more rate options they can apply and ensures equal treatment between Member States. Article 98 of the VAT Directive is amended to provide the application of a maximum of two reduced rates of at least 5% that may be applied to up to 24 supplies listed in the revised Annex III.

Member States may apply a reduced rate of less than 5% and an exemption with the right to deduct VAT (zero-rate) to a maximum of seven supplies from Annex III. The reduced and zero-rates application is limited to goods and services considered to cover basic needs, such as water, foodstuffs, medicines, pharmaceutical products, health and hygiene products, transport of persons and cultural items like books, newspapers and periodicals. It’s the first time Member States can exempt such necessities.

All Member States now have equal access to existing derogations to apply reduced rates for specific products previously granted on a country-specific basis. Taxpayers must exercise the option to apply the derogations by 6 October 2023.

Annex III contains notable new supplies and revisions to support green and digital transitions: supply and installation of solar panels, supply of electricity and district heating and cooling, bicycles and electric bicycles, admission to live-streaming events (from 1 January 2025), live plants and floricultural products, and others. Environmentally harmful goods such as fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers/pesticides have also been added but will be excluded from 1 January 2030 and 2032.

Member States must adopt and publish, by 31 December 2024, the requisite laws and compliance measures to comply with the new rules scheduled to apply from 1 January 2025.

Legislative activity

Member States have begun enacting legislation in response to the new reduced rate Directive since its approval in December 2021. Poland and Croatia reduced the VAT rate on basic foodstuffs to the zero-rate and Bulgaria and Romania are considering the same. Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Spain have announced VAT reductions on energy supplies (e.g., electricity, heating/cooling, natural gas) and Greece is considering the reduction.

These rate changes have already been proposed or enacted before the 6 April 2022 effective date of the Council Directive. While world events and energy price spikes also contribute to these changes, the long-anticipated reduced rate amendments now allow Member States to do so within the bounds of the VAT Directive.

It‘s expected that more Member States will review their VAT rate structure in response to these new reduced rate opportunities.

For more on these amendments, please refer to our previous blog.

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Get in touch about the benefits a managed service provider can offer to ease your VAT compliance burden.

The Norwegian Ministry of Finance has proposed to amend the Norwegian Value Added Tax (VAT) Act regarding cross-border business to consumer sales of non-digital services. The proposal would require purchases of remotely deliverable services from suppliers established outside of Norway to consumers located in Norway to be subject to VAT.

Current requirements in Norway

Since 2011, Norway has operated a simplified VAT compliance regime for foreign suppliers of digital services to consumers. Non-resident suppliers who sell e-books, streaming media, software, or other digital services to Norwegian consumers and meet the NOK 50,000 VAT registration threshold must register and collect VAT on these sales, the same as resident businesses.

Non-resident suppliers not established in Norway may use the simplified VAT On E-Commerce (VOEC) scheme for registration and reporting. Additionally, suppliers in Norway must pay VAT on all purchases of remotely deliverable services from businesses located abroad. Currently, however, foreign suppliers of remotely deliverable services, which are not digital, are not required to register and pay VAT on their sales of such services.

Proposal

The Norwegian tax authority is concerned about the competitive advantage of non-resident suppliers over resident suppliers when providing deliverable services to Norwegian consumers. The Norwegian Ministry of Finance has presented a proposal to amend the Norwegian VAT Act to require non-resident suppliers to collect and report VAT on remotely deliverable services to consumers.

Under the proposal, foreign providers of traditional services would have to charge VAT for consulting services, accounting services, and other cross-border services provided to consumers located in Norway. When the customer is a business or a public authority, or when the transaction is considered a B2B sale, the VAT would still be charged and collected by the customer via the reverse charge mechanism. Suppliers that are not established in Norway would be able to use the existing VOEC scheme.

Status and timeline

The Norwegian Ministry of Finance has submitted the proposal for amendments to the Norwegian VAT Act regarding selling remotely deliverable services from abroad to recipients in Norway for consultation. The deadline for submitting comments on the proposal is 8 July 2022. Please stay tuned for updates on if the proposed amendments are adopted in Norway and when the amendments will take effect should they be adopted.

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The Italian government has taken important steps to broaden the scope of its e-invoicing mandate, more specifically by widening the scope of taxpayers subject to electronic invoice issuance and clearance obligations, starting 1 July 2022.

On 13 April 2022, the draft Law-Decree, known as the second part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Decreto Legge PNRR 2 – Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza), was approved by the Italian Council of Ministers (Consiglio dei ministri).

The Italian government-approved National Recovery Plan is part of the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), an instrument created to assist Member States financially in recovering from the economic and social challenges raised by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The expansion of Italy’s e-invoicing mandate is one element of the government’s anti-tax evasion package and addresses, in particular, the advancement of digital transformation, one of the six pillars of the RRF.

New taxpayers in scope

The draft Law-Decree PNRR 2 expands the obligation to issue and clear electronic invoices through the Italian clearance platform Sistema di Intercambio (SDI) to certain VAT taxpayers exempt from the mandate thus far. This means that from 1 July 2022, the following additional taxpayers are obliged to comply with the Italian e-invoicing mandate:

The regime forfettario is available to taxpayers who fulfil specific requirements, allowing them to adopt a reduced flat-rate VAT regime of 15%, decreased to 5% for new businesses during the first five years. These taxpayers have, up until now, been exempt from the obligation to issue e-invoices and clear them through the SDI, according to Legislative Decree 127 of 5 August 2015.

Additionally, amateur sports associations and third sector entities with revenue up to EUR 65,000 who have also been exempt from the e-invoicing mandate, are included as new subjects. Starting 1 July 2022, e-invoicing will also become mandatory for them.

The mandate still excludes microenterprises with revenues or fees up to EUR 25,000 per year, which instead will be required to issue and clear e-invoices with the SDI starting in 2024.

Short grace period introduced

The draft decree also established a short transitional grace period from 1 July 2022 until 30 September 2022. During this time taxpayers subject to the new mandate are allowed to issue e-invoices within the following month when the transaction was carried out, without being subject to any penalties. This gives the new subjects time to conform to the general rule stating electronic invoices must be issued within 12 days from the transaction date.

What’s next?

The definitive text of the decree has not yet been published in the Italian Official Gazette; only once this final step is taken will the decree formally become law, and the extended scope become binding. The start of the second semester of this year brings additional significant changes in Italy concerning the mandatory reporting of cross-border invoices through FatturaPA, also set to begin on 1 July 2022.

Take Action

Need help ensuring your business stays compliant with evolving e-invoicing obligations in Italy? Contact our team of experts to learn how Sovos’ solutions for changing e-invoicing obligations can help you stay compliant.