Norway announced its intentions to introduce a new digital VAT return in late 2020, with an intended launch date of 1 January 2022. Since then, businesses have wondered what this change would mean for them and how IT teams would need to prepare systems to meet this new requirement. Norway has since provided ample guidance so businesses can begin preparations sooner rather than later.
With this new VAT return, the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten) seeks to provide simplification in reporting, better administration, and improved compliance.
This new VAT return provides for an additional 11 boxes, increasing the count from 19 to 30 boxes which are based on existing SAF-T codes to allow for more detailed reporting and flexibility. It’s important to note that the obligation to submit a SAF-T file will not change with the introduction of this new VAT return.
This change is for the VAT return only – with the SAF-T codes being re-used and re-purposed to provide additional information. Businesses must still comply with the Norwegian SAF-T mandate where applicable and must also submit this new digital VAT return.
Technical specifications of Norway’s digital VAT return
Skatteetaten has created many web pages with detailed information for businesses to look through over the next few months including the following:
- Implementation Guide – this guide was created to assist developers and businesses in assessing the technical requirements needed to implement upcoming changes
- Validation Rules – this list will be continually updated with more validation rules as needed
- XSD for VAT Return – contains the technical specifications (XSD) for the new VAT return as well as example files and descriptions of the fields contained in the return
- API Submission – contains information on submission and validation of the VAT return including error messages
- Testing Portal Information – contains information on test data and environments
- Questions and Answers – FAQ page for businesses to understand answers to common questions that may come up including registration, submission method, and additional files
Submission method for Norway’s digital VAT return
Norway is encouraging direct ERP submission of the VAT return where possible. However, the tax authorities have announced that manual upload via the Altinn portal will still be available. Login and authentication of the end user or system is carried out via ID-porten.
Additionally, Norway has provided a method for validation for the VAT return file, which should be tested before submission to increase the probability that the file is accepted by the tax authorities. The validator will validate the content of a tax return and should return a response with any errors, deviations, or warnings. This is done by checking the message format and the composition of the elements in the VAT return.
Businesses should begin preparations for the implementation of this new VAT return, as there will likely be challenges along the way.
In addition to the new VAT return, Norway has also announced plans to implement a sales and purchase report, which is currently in an early proposal stage in review with the Ministry of Finance. The next phase is mandatory public consultation which is when a desired launch date will be set. Skatteetaten notes that implementation time will be considered when determining an introduction date for the report.