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Poland Implements Rules for e-Invoices: Opportunity to Reduce Costs and Streamline Processes
Poland has already implemented the provisions of Council Directive regarding the rules on invoicing. The Directive n? 2010/45/EU of 13 July 2010 expressly stipulates that an advanced electronic signature based on a qualified certificate as well as electronic data interchanges (EDI) are merely examples of technologies that can be used in order to issue and send an electronic invoice. This means that Member States have to treat other methods of electronic invoicing applied in practice by taxpayers as lawful, provided that the authenticity of the origin and the integrity of the content of an electronic invoice are ensured.
The Directive sets 31 December 2012 deadline for Member States to enact and publish provisions necessary to comply with European Union regulations in this area. In Poland such regulations have been in force already since 1 January 2011. Taxand Poland examines the new rules for e-invoices and impact on taxpayers, particularly those who issue a lot of invoices.
The Polish Minister of Finance has issued a Regulation specifying detailed rules on electronic invoicing. The Regulation has been in force since 1 January 2011. It contains provisions concerning sending, storage and availability of electronic invoices.
The Regulation explicitly sets forth that invoices can be issued, sent and made available to tax authorities in any electronic format. Exercise of such a right is however conditional upon fulfilment of some requirements set out in the Regulation:
- the use of electronic invoices must be beforehand subject to acceptance (in writing or by electronic means) by the recipient
- the authenticity of the origin and the integrity of the content of electronic invoices must be guaranteed.
Apart from the above, the Regulation lays down specific rules on storage of electronic invoices. No general methodology has been imposed with the exception of the obligation to divide them into separate accounting periods. Besides this, taxpayers have additionally been obliged to ensure the authenticity of the origin, the integrity of the content and legibility of invoices stored electronically. Furthermore, taxpayers should also be able to grant access to them without delay upon the request of the tax authorities.
Finally, the Regulation permits storage of electronic invoices outside the territory of Poland if tax authorities are able to access these invoices on-line, download and process them.
In practice, the discussed provisions mean that Polish taxpayers do not need to resort to an advanced electronic signature based on a qualified certificate or Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in order to issue an electronic invoice. Based on the wording of the new Regulation, the right to issue, send and store invoices in PDF format should not raise any doubts. Recent binding rulings confirm correctness of such a standpoint. However, at the same time tax authorities underline the obligation to ensure the authenticity of the origin and the integrity of the content of an electronic invoice. Since the Regulation does not specify directly how to ensure the authenticity and integrity of electronic invoices, in this regard the taxpayers should rely directly on the Directive.
All in all, it seems the Directive has been implemented into the Polish tax system correctly and as a result, the legal significance of electronic invoices and paper invoices has been equaled. Taxpayers, especially those who issue a lot of invoices should consider adopting the solutions provided by the Regulation, as it may significantly reduce their costs and streamline their invoicing process.
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