For those following the ongoing tax control reform in India, 2019 has been a very eventful year for Indian e-invoicing. Starting last spring, a group of government and public administration bodies have convened regularly with the mission of proposing a new way of controlling GST compliance through the introduction of mandatory e-invoicing. Given the vast impact such a reform would have on not just the Indian but the global economy, these discussions, often carried out behind closed doors, have triggered a large number of rumours, sometimes leading to misinformation on the market.

Navigating the information deficit

So far, not much information of a formal or binding nature has been published or made available to the public. After the public consultation held earlier this autumn, a high-level whitepaper describing the envisaged e-invoicing process was published; however, since then nothing formal or binding has been released. A recent media note made available by the relevant authorities to the press indicated that the timeline envisaged by the government for the roll-out would be:

1 January 2020: voluntary for businesses with a turnover of Rs.500 Crore or more;

1 February 2020: voluntary for businesses with turnover of Rs.100 Crore or more;

1 April 2020: mandatory for both of the above categories and voluntary for businesses with a turnover of less than Rs. 100 Crore.

While the clarity was welcomed, this timeline was not yet binding, and as a result, taxpayers were left with little information on how to meet the requirements of the tax control reform, and no binding indication of when they need to comply. However, this situation is now currently being remedied, and we are seeing the first codification into law.

The first pieces of legislation make an entrance

On December 13, 2019, a set of Notifications (No. 67-72/2019) introducing amendments to the existing GST legislation framework were released and are currently awaiting publication in the Gazette of India. In a nutshell, these Notifications:

These Notifications issued on December 13 will be the first of many pieces of documentation that are needed to formally clarify the details of the upcoming e-invoicing reform. More important still, they serve as a clear indication that the relevant Indian authorities are nearing the end of what has been an analytical and consultative design period, and that they now instead are transitioning into a period of preparation for the first roll-out.

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Beyond the implications outlined in our last blog, Decree-Law 28/2019 (the Decree-Law)  impacts areas beyond invoicing, introducing modifications to both archiving and the reporting of tax data.

Mandatory electronic archiving

A novelty of the Decree-Law is the explicit introduction of an obligation to archive electronic invoices in electronic format which in turn further promotes the adoption of electronic formats. Portugal has chosen a closed system in which by law the invoice must remain in the same format in which it was issued. This means that even those companies who are not engaged in e-invoicing, but who receive an electronic invoice from a supplier, will have to acquire and maintain an electronic archive. The alternative would be to reject the invoice and request a printed version. For archiving, the law does not allow for the invoice format to change. 

The law also establishes archiving requirements:

It is mandatory for taxpayers to report to the tax authority the location of the electronic archive. All taxpayers must comply with the transition rules of the Decree-Law within 30 days from when it comes into force – i.e. by 17 March 2019.

SAF-T (PT) filing changes

As well as the e-archiving rules, changes have been introduced to the reporting of invoice data to the tax authority through SAF-T (PT) files by modifying provisions set in Decreto -Lei n.º 198/2012 regarding the time of filing the SAFT-T (PT) file. Until now, taxpayers could file the SAF-T file to fulfill reporting obligations until the 25th of the following month of issuing the invoice.

A reduced time to report comes into force according to the following schedule:

Taxpayers can still choose to report in real-time through webservice integration instead of uploading the SAF-T (PT) file.  The Decree-Law enhanced this option as taxpayers who choose to report in this way are not obliged to print B2C issued invoices unless it is explicitly requested by the buyer and provided they comply with the requirement of inserting the unique invoice code to the invoice and use certified invoicing software.

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