According to Accountis Europe Ltd, an international provider of secure financial document exchange and payment systems, companies who send electronic invoices in Europe are finding it difficult to keep track of local VAT legislation. This may result in e-invoices being classed as non-compliant, and lead to possible penalties, such as fines and even imprisonment.
E-invoices were first accepted as legal VAT documents by all EU Member States in 2004. While all member states accept e-invoicing, the detail of legislation varies from country to country, with some being far stricter than others.
For companies in the UK, there are no penalties for non-compliance, but they will lose the ability to deduct VAT. On the other hand, organisations in Ireland can be fined €1,520 for each non-compliant e-invoice, plus an additional personal penalty of €950. Organisations in Sweden face some of the harshest penalties with non-compliant e-invoicing or storage incurring a criminal penalty of up to two years in prison depending on the circumstances.
"Trying to keep track of the different country regulations can be a major headache for companies who trade internationally," said Rhys Jones, managing director of Accountis. "All e-invoices must comply with VAT rules stipulated in the place of supply. This means that an e-invoice generated for goods sent out from an office in Spain, for example, must comply with Spanish law, even if the organisation is registered in Germany. As a result, a company needs to be fully conversant with legislation in all the countries from which they supply."
To ensure that e-invoices are compliant throughout Europe, it has been suggested that companies use a pan-European e-invoicing service which operates a proven European transaction network. Electronic invoice presentment and payment (EIPP) systems have the expertise and local knowledge to make sure all e-invoices are VAT compliant. This eliminates the risk of being penalised for exchanging non compliant e-invoices. They also offer additional features to help facilitate smooth international trading, such as multicurrency and multlingual support.
In the UK, a new set of guidelines has recently been released in the form of Tax Notice 700/63 (UK Notice on E-Invoicing 2004/2005). This document details the latest laws on issuing, receiving and storing VAT e-invoices in the UK. To view the document, visit the HS Customs and Excise Website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk. Companies can visit the EU Website at http://europa.eu to find out more about tax notices in other EU countries.
For a more detailed discussion on European e-invoicing legislation, please refer to the full Accountis article called "Trading Confusion - The Current State of E-Invoicing Legislation in Europe" at http://www.accountis.com/accountis/articleeuropefacts.html
Notes for editors Accountis provides secure financial document exchange and payment systems to companies globally. The highly secure Accountis system offers all the features of an EIPP and can manage, present and receive financial documents such as quotes, purchase orders, invoices, statements and the payments associated with these documents. The system complies with relevant legislation world-wide for smooth cross-border trading. Processing over one million transactions every day, Accountis is used by many of the world's largest corporations.
For more information, please contact: Susan Davies Marketing manager
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