The Electronic Payroll Mandate of Colombia

Ramón Frias
June 1, 2021

The Colombian electronic invoicing system is reaching maturity level. Since its inception in 2018, Colombia has been steadily consolidating and expanding the mandate to make it more stable, reliable and comprehensive.

As a result of the enactment of the recent Resolution 000013/2021, the Colombian tax administration (DIAN), officially expanded the electronic invoicing mandate to also include payroll transactions. This expansion follows the pattern established by Mexico, Brazil and other countries that already expanded the electronic invoicing mandate to payroll transactions as well.

The Support Document for Electronic Payroll is known locally in Colombia as Documento Soporte de Nomina Electronica or also simply as Nomina Electronica. It is a new digital document intended to support and validate the payroll related costs and deductions of income tax and the VAT credits (if applicable) when businesses make payments resulting from labor, legal, and other similar types of relations (pensions).

In simple terms, labour cost transactions should be reported under this new digital system for them to be valid. This is whenever employers make payments for wages, salaries, reimbursements, pensions etc.

Who is required to comply with the electronic payroll mandate?

Employers paying wages under a labor relation, where payments are reported as expenses for income tax purposes or as deductible taxes for VAT, need to comply. However, there are important exceptions derived from that legal framework. For instance, public offices, non-for-profit entities or taxpayers under the simplified regime are not currently required to comply. Consequently, they do not need to use such payments for deductions of income tax or VAT.

Schedule of deployment

The DIAN established an implementation schedule based on the number of employees the taxpayer has in the payroll. There are four stages or groups subject to the following deadlines:

Group Deadline to start the generation and remittance of the document Number of employees
From Up to
1 1 September 2021 More than 250 employees101
2 1 October 2021 101 250
3 1 November 2021 11 100
4 1 December 2021 1 10

Deadline for remittance

As the Nomina Electronica is required to be reported monthly, the payments for each month should be reported by the 10th day of the next month as a result. The adjustment notes should be reported within the same deadline, once they have been made by the employer.

Reporting elements of the electronic payroll mandate

There are two basic types of reports that are parts of this mandate: the Support Document of the electronic payroll, and – when necessary – the Adjustment Note.

Support Document of Electronic Payroll or Nomina Electronica

This electronic document contains the information supporting the payments made to employees as wages and other compensations, deductions and the difference between them made by the employer, as reported in the payroll. The employer must then generate and transmit the document to the DIAN using the XML format established in the technical documentation included in the regulation 000037/2021.

Adjustment Notes

In this mandate there are no credit notes as we know them in the electronic invoice system of Colombia. However, when an employer needs to make corrections to the Support Document of Electronic Payroll reported to the DIAN, it can issue what we know as Adjustment Notes (or Notas de Ajuste) where the employer will be allowed to correct any value previously reported to the DIAN via the Nomina Electronica.

Content and structure of the reports

Employers must submit reports to the DIAN individualised for each beneficiary receiving payments from the employers. As a result, the report requires the provision of some mandatory information for the DIAN to validate. This includes the proper identification of the report itself, the reporting party, in addition to the employees, wages or other payments employees, date, numbering, software etc.

Another mandatory information element that is worth mentioning is the CUNE or Unique Code of Electronic Payroll Support Document. This is a unique identifier for each Electronic Payroll Support Document. It will allow exact identification of each report or the Adjustment Notes issued after it. However, there is some additional optional information that can be provided depending on the needs or convenience of the employer making the report.

From a technical perspective, neither the Support Document of the Electronic Payroll nor the Adjustment Notes are based on the UBL 2.1 structure used in Colombia for the electronic invoice. This is because the UBL standard does not include modules for payroll transactions or reports. Therefore, the DIAN has based its architecture in a different XML standard. Each report requires a digital signature. For that, the taxpayer can use the same digital certificate used for signing electronic invoices.

Generation, transmission and validation

The current regulations do not require that the Nomina Electronica or the Adjustment Notes should be generated by a particular software solution or by a software provider authorized by the DIAN. Taxpayers have the option to generate the report using their own solution. That is a market solution or a solution that the DIAN will provide for small taxpayers. However, all reports should strictly follow the technical documentation issued by the DIAN within the Resolution 000037/2021. The remittance of those documents is electronic, using the webservices specified by the DIAN.

After making the transmission, the DIAN then validates the document. They will then report back the corresponding application response to the taxpayer, indicating its acceptance and validation. Only then, will the amounts reported in the payroll document are valid expenses for the deduction.

Penalties and sanctions

Non-compliance with electronic payroll in Colombia will be subject to the same fines and penalties established for not complying with the electronic invoicing mandate, as defined in Art. 652-1 of the Tax Code of Colombia (Estatuto Tributario). But the most important implication of non-compliance is that any payment not reported by the employer, will not be allowed as expenses for income tax or VAT purposes when applicable.

Take Action

Speak to our experts about your tax requirements in Colombia and keep up to date with the changing VAT compliance landscape by downloading VAT Trends: Toward Continuous Transaction Controls.

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Author

Ramón Frias

Ramon is a Tax Counsel on the Regulatory Analysis team at Sovos. He is licensed to practice law in the Dominican Republic and is a member of the Dominican Bar Association. He has a Certificate Degree from Harvard University as well as a J.D. from the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. Ramon has written a number of essays about tax administration and has won the first prize in the international essays contest sponsored by the Inter American Center of Tax Administrations (CIAT). Prior to joining Sovos, Ramon worked for more than 10 years in the Department of Revenue of the Dominican Republic where he served as Deputy Director. He is proficient in French and Spanish.
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