New administrative circular Letter regarding electronic invoicing (E.T. 120.000)
Further to the implementation of EU Directive 2010/45/EU, i.e. the so-called invoicing Directive, into Belgian Law on 1 January 2013, the Belgian Minister of Finance has published a new circular letter (ET 120.000) on 4 April 2014 clarifying the new rules as well as explaining certain notions in the field of electronic invoicing and archiving.
With these administrative guidelines, which are retroactively applicable as of 1 January 2013, the Belgian VAT authorities detail their vision on, amongst others, the following topics:
- the acceptance of electronic invoices by the recipient;
- the means guaranteeing the authenticity of origin, the integrity of content and the legibility of electronic invoices;
- the applicable methods and/or technologies by which the taxable person can meet the mentioned guarantees; and
- the possible business controls which ensure a reliable audit trail.
The key principles included in the new circular letter are fully in line with those of the invoicing Directive. As a result, the new administrative guidelines acknowledge that it is the responsibility of the individual VAT taxable persons to ensure, amongst others, by means of internal business controls which guarantee a reliable audit trail, that the authenticity of origin, the integrity of content as well as the legibility of invoices is guaranteed during the entire invoicing and archiving period. As a consequence of this approach, the Belgian VAT authorites will no longer grant upfront individual rulings on the vat compliance of the internal business controls which are set up by taxable persons.
Along with the freedom in the framework of electronic invoicing, taxable persons are confronted with responsibility. In order to be able to comply with the new regulation and administrative guidelines, businesses should be able to evidence that they are in control of their entire invoicing and archiving process (both for paper as well as electronic invoicing). In other words, the internal processes and applied technologies regarding invoicing and archiving need to be sufficiently documented and, if desired, can be validated by a third party in order to be able to proof that these invoicing and archiving processes guarantee the authenticity of origin, the integrity of content as well as the legibility of invoices during the entire invoicing and archiving period.
Should you require more information regarding the above mentioned regulation and administrative guidelines, please do not hesitate to contact your Indirect Tax contacts within EY or one of the listed persons.