Germany simplifies VAT e-invoicing rules

Mon 23rd Jul 2012

Germany has proved an update on its adoption of the European Union’s VAT e-invoice Directive.  Its aim is to accelerate the adoption of electronic VAT invoices, and help reduce the VAT compliance burden on German and non-resident German VAT registered businesses.  The drive is to replace paper invoices with electronic alternatives.

The European Union sets the rules for the VAT compliance regimes of the member states.  This includes the make-up of standard invoices that are acceptable for VAT and accounting requirements.  In 2010, the EU issued a special Directive (law) on how member states should do this, including common standards on electronic signatures.  All of the requirements for the new rules are to be implemented in the local countries’ legislation prior to January 2013.

Germany has been an early adopter of the electronic invoicing obligations, implementing the first changes in 2011.  This latest addition to the VAT compliance rules includes the right to send invoices in PDF formats, rather than in paper format, subject to unstipulated internal control procedures.  Companies have assumed that this is down to them to determine.  The German authorities have now confirmed this, and reiterated that the recipient must still be in agreement.  Companies must still comply with all the other basic compliance requirements for invoices, including supporting goods received notes, to ensure full deductibility of any invoices, for submission of their German VAT returns.



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