E-Invoicing Developments in Northern Europe

Enis Gencer
March 14, 2023

Northern European Jurisdictions: CTC Update

The European Commission’s VAT in the Digital Age (ViDA) proposal continues to unfold with the latest details published on 8 December 2022. As a result, many EU countries are stepping up their efforts towards digitising tax controls – including mandatory e-invoicing.

While we see different approaches to initiate this transition across Northern Europe, the trend towards continuous transaction controls (CTCs) and e-invoicing mandates has accelerated.

Germany plans for e-invoicing mandate

Recent statements indicate that Germany is taking steps towards a B2B e-invoicing mandate, however, without a centralised reporting or clearance element – at least for now. During a VAT conference on 10 March, the Federal Ministry of Finance announced that a draft paper will be published in a couple of weeks for the introduction of the e-invoicing mandate.

It is worth noting that Germany had previously requested a derogatory decision from the European Commission to implement a mandatory e-invoicing regime, as announced by the Ministry of Finance in November 2022.

Sweden edges towards mandatory B2B e-invoicing

Sweden is another country where it would not be surprising to see an e-invoicing requirement emerge. The Swedish Agency for Digital Government (DIGG) has expressed the desire to implement mandatory e-invoicing in the country.

With the Swedish Tax Agency and the Swedish Companies Registration Office, DIGG has requested the government research the conditions for mandating e-invoicing in B2B and G2B flows, which would be added to the current B2G e-invoicing mandate.

The reasoning behind this request is that if the European Commission’s ViDA proposal is adopted, it will result in mandatory e-invoicing in cross-border flows. Therefore the national system should align for efficiency purposes. DIGG does not believe that alignment will occur voluntarily, but a mandate will be necessary.

Finland supports the ViDA package

In Finland, no mandatory B2B e-invoicing mandate is in place. However, buyers can receive a structured electronic invoice from their suppliers if requested. This regulation has been in effect since April 2020 for all Finnish companies with a turnover exceeding €10,000.

Furthermore, the Finnish government recently demonstrated their support of electronic invoicing by sending a letter to Parliament outlining its benefits. The government sees electronic invoicing as a means of increasing business efficiency and combatting VAT fraud through the ViDA package.

Lithuania introduces Peppol-based e-invoicing platform

Lithuania is laying the groundwork for the broader use of e-invoices. It has announced plans to build a technological solution that complies with the European standard for the transmission of electronic invoices.

The platform is expected to be available free of charge to businesses for at least five years and should be ready by September 2023. Additionally, the platform will meet Peppol Network requirements and comply with Peppol BIS 3.0.

Denmark enables automated e-invoicing via e-bookkeeping systems

Denmark has also been working on digitizing the business processes by implementing a new bookkeeping law. The Danish Business Authority has initiated implementing the Bookkeeping Act’s digital bookkeeping provisions by adopting draft executive orders for standard digital bookkeeping systems and their registration.

As a result, providers of standard digital bookkeeping systems must adapt their systems to the new requirements by 31 October 2023 at the latest. The new provisions stipulate that traditional digital bookkeeping systems must support the automatic sending and receiving of e-invoices in OIOUBL and PEPPOL BIS format.

While Denmark has not announced the final dates, it expects taxpayers to adhere to the digital bookkeeping rules between 2024 and 2026.

Speak to a member of our team if you have further questions about e-invoicing.

Update: 4 October 2022 by Enis Gencer

Northern Europe Continuous Transaction Controls Update

The recent EU Commission report on the VAT in the Digital Age Initiative indicates that continuous transaction controls (CTCs) will become more prevalent across Europe. The final report suggests introducing an EU-wide CTC e-invoicing system covering both intra-EU and domestic transactions as the best policy option. While Eastern European countries have been at the forefront of local implementations, acting swiftly and introducing CTCs, it’s also worth keeping an eye on some of the developments in Northern Europe.

Germany

Following the 2021 national elections, the new coalition government in Germany  identified  VAT fraud as a policy question. It announced its intention to introduce a nationwide electronic reporting system as soon as possible, which will be used for the creation, checking, and forwarding of invoices. Although there are no details about the nature of the system, discussions are ongoing with stakeholders from the private sector, mainly focusing on the implementation timeline and the government’s role in such a system.

B2G e-invoicing has been mandatory for invoices issued to the federal administration since 2020. The scope was expanded from 1 January 2022 to include state-owned authorities in Baden-Wurttemberg, Hamburg, and Saarland, with the next states joining in 2023 and 2024. Moreover, the IT Planning Council, the Central Body for the digitization of administration in Germany, issued the decision 2022/31  advising all contracting authorities to accept electronic invoices via the PEPPOL network by 1 October 2023 to connect the entire public area in a uniform manner.

Denmark

Denmark is also aiming to introduce new requirements to digitize the business processes of Danish companies. On 19 May 2022, the Danish Parliament passed a new accounting law requiring taxpayers to make their bookings electronically using a digital accounting system. The mandate will take effect gradually between 2024 and 2026, depending on the company’s form and turnover.

While the new accounting law doesn’t introduce any mandatory e-invoicing or CTC obligations, it is envisaged that the digital accounting systems must support continuous registration of the company’s transactions and the automation of administrative processes, including automatic transmission and receipt of e-invoices. The Ministry of Finance has been authorised to adopt rules requiring companies to register purchase and sales transactions with electronic invoices as the documentation of the transactions, which in practice would amount to an e-invoicing mandate.

The Danish Business Authority, Erhvervsstyrelsen, has prepared drafts for three executive orders concerning the new digital bookkeeping requirements. According to draft regulations, digital accounting systems are required to support the automatic sending and receiving of e-invoices in OIOUBL and PEPPOL BIS format. These systems must be able to share the company’s accounting data by generating a standard file, which is the Danish SAF-T Standard recently published by Erhvervsstyrelsen.

The draft regulations will be available for public consultation until 27 October and the requirements are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2023. There will be a conversion period until 1 October 2023 for digital accounting systems to comply with the requirements.

Sweden

Sweden is another country looking at introducing digital reporting requirements. The Swedish Tax Administration, Skatteverket, is considering different ways to ensure the correct collection of VAT while obtaining useful economic data from businesses. The project is still at an early phase, and while such requirements could mean introducing Standard Tax Audit File (SAF-T) requirements or a type of CTC, e-reporting, or e-invoicing, the tax authorities would still strive to implement a smooth system for businesses.

Latvia

The Latvian Ministry of Finance has been working on digitizing invoicing processes for a while. They conducted a public consultation and took into consideration opinions of companies and non-governmental organizations to find out the readiness to start using e-invoices in Latvia.

As a result, the Ministry of Finance prepared a report discussing the current situation and the implementation of e-invoices, and possible technological solutions. The report focuses on different e-invoicing systems, such as post-audit e-invoicing, centralised e-invoicing, and decentralised e-invoicing, comparing the advantages and disadvantages of such systems.

The report favours the PEPPOL BIS standard for the introduction of mandatory e-invoicing in B2B and B2G transactions and proposes the use of e-invoices must be defined as an obligation in Latvian regulations, setting a mandatory requirement for the use of e-invoices to start no later than 2025.

The Latvian government approved the report, and the necessary regulatory acts, hence implementation of technological solutions are expected to take shape in due course.

What’s next?

It’s clear that CTC initiatives are becoming increasingly popular among governments and tax authorities in Europe, with the Northern European countries starting to follow this trend, even if they seem to be acting more cautiously. It will be very interesting to see how and when these CTC projects take shape and be affected by the upcoming results from the EU Commission on the VAT in the Digital Age project.

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Author

Enis Gencer

Enis Gencer is Regulatory Counsel at Sovos and is based in Istanbul, Turkey. With experience in compliance and legal consultancy he currently undertakes the legal monitoring and analysis of the regulations regarding electronic documents. Enis graduated from Istanbul University Faculty of Law.
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