VAT Trends: CTCs and Their Impact on Business Today

Sovos
May 16, 2021

This blog is an excerpt from Sovos’ Annual VAT Trends report. Please click here to download your complimentary copy in full.

VAT requirements and their relative importance for businesses have changed significantly in recent years. For data that is transactional in nature, the overall VAT trend is clearly toward various forms of continuous transaction controls (CTCs).

The first steps toward this radically different mode of enforcement, known as the “clearance model”, began in Latin America in the early 2000s. Other emerging economies, such as Turkey, followed suit a decade later. And today, many countries in the Latin American region now have stable CTC systems where a significant amount of the data required for VAT enforcement is based on invoices. Other key data is harvested and pre-approved directly at the time of the transaction.

Common clearance system features

There are several high-level features and processes that many clearance systems have in common.

However, many variations exist on this reference model in practice; many countries with a clearance system have implemented extensions and variations on these “standard” processes:

1. OK TO ISSUE: Typically, the process starts with the supplier sending the invoice in a specified format to the tax authorities or a state agent licensed to act on its behalf. This invoice is ordinarily signed with a secret private key corresponding to a public certificate issued to the supplier.

2. OK/NOT OK: The tax authority or state agent (for example, an accredited or licensed operator) will typically verify the signed supplier invoice and clear it by registering it under a unique identification number in its internal platform. In some countries, a proof of clearance is returned, which can be as simple as a unique transaction ID, possibly with a timestamp. In some cases, it’s digitally signed by the tax authority/state agent. The proof of clearance may be detached from the invoice or added to it.

3. VALID: Upon receipt of the invoice, the buyer is often obligated or encouraged to check with the tax authority or its agent that the invoice received was issued in compliance with applicable requirements. In general, the buyer usually handles integrity and authenticity control using crypto tools, also used to verify a signed proof of clearance. In other cases, the tax authority or agent completes the clearance check online.

4. OK/NOT OK: If the buyer has used an online system to perform the validation described in the previous step, the tax authority or state agent will re-turn an OK/not OK response to the buyer.

The first “clearance” implementations were in countries like Chile, Mexico and Brazil between 2000 and 2010. They were inspired by this high-level process template. Countries that subsequently introduced similar systems, in Latin America and worldwide, take greater liberties with this basic process model.

Global expansion of CTCs

Europe and other countries passed through a stage allowing original VAT invoices to be electronic. This is without changing the basics of the VAT law enforcement model. This phase of voluntary e-invoicing without process re-engineering is “post audit” e-invoicing. The moment a tax administration audit comes into play is post-transaction. In a post audit system, the tax authority has no operational role in the invoicing process. It relies heavily on periodic reports transmitted by the taxpayer.

Largely due to the staggering improvements in revenue collection and economic transparency demonstrated by countries with existing CTC regimes, countries in Europe, Asia and Africa have also started moving away from post audit regulation to adopting CTC-inspired approaches.

Many EU Member States, for example, are moving toward CTCs not by imposing “clearance” e-invoicing but by making existing VAT reporting processes more granular and more frequent via CTC reporting. These countries will eventually adopt requirements for real-time or near-real-time invoice transmission. This is as well as electronic transmission of other transaction and accounting data to the tax authority. However, it’s not a foregone conclusion that they’ll all take these regimes to the extreme of invoice clearance.

CTC reporting from a purely technical perspective often looks like clearance e-invoicing, but these regimes are separate from invoicing rules. In addition, they don’t necessarily require the invoice as exchanged between the supplier and the buyer to be electronic.

The impact of CTCs on business

The VAT trend towards CTCs is obvious, but situations in individual countries and regions remain fluid. It’s important to align your company with local expertise that understands the nuances of your business and what regulations and rules you’re subject to.

Take Action

Start by downloading the full Trends Report here or contact us

Sign up for Email Updates

Stay up to date with the latest tax and compliance updates that may impact your business.

Author

Sovos

Sovos was built to solve the complexities of the digital transformation of tax, with complete, connected offerings for tax determination, continuous transaction controls, tax reporting and more. Sovos customers include half the Fortune 500, as well as businesses of every size operating in more than 70 countries. The company’s SaaS products and proprietary Sovos S1 Platform integrate with a wide variety of business applications and government compliance processes. Sovos has employees throughout the Americas and Europe, and is owned by Hg and TA Associates.
Share This Post

EMEA
June 16, 2022
VAT on Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

The recent popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has captivated investors, governments and tax authorities. An NFT is a digital asset that represents real-world objects such as a piece of digital art, an audio clip, an online game or anything else. NFTs are purchased and sold online and are typically encoded with the same software as […]

EMEA IPT
June 15, 2022
In Focus: Why is Italy’s IPT Regime so Challenging?

Tax compliance in Italy – where do we start? From monthly tax settlements to an annual declaration, prepayment, additional reporting and treatment of negative premiums – all these factors make Italy unique and one of the most challenging jurisdictions from an insurance premium tax (IPT) compliance perspective. Let’s break it all down: Insurance taxes IPT […]

EMEA VAT & Fiscal Reporting
June 15, 2022
Reciprocity Agreements and Why They Matter When Recovering VAT

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 […]

E-Invoicing Compliance EMEA
June 14, 2022
Draft Resolution Introduces Changes to Peru’s E-transport Document

E-invoicing was introduced in Peru in 2010, following the continuous transaction controls (CTC) trend in Latin American countries for a more efficient collection of consumption taxes. Since then, the government has rolled out measures to encompass a significant number of taxpayers under the country’s mandatory e-invoicing regime and advance new technical and institutional structures within […]

E-Invoicing Compliance EMEA
June 9, 2022
Belgium Steps Closer to Mandatory E-Invoicing

In line with the obligations set by the European Directive 2014/55 on electronic invoicing in public procurement, Belgium introduced a mandate for public entities to receive and process electronic invoices in 2019. For Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia the initiative went beyond the bare minimum of the EU Directive requirements and introduced obligations to also issue […]