By Joanna Hysi, Regulatory Counsel
More than six months ago the Greek authorities announced their intention to introduce mandatory e-invoicing and e-bookkeeping rules, and enough information is now available to assess what the proposed rules will mean for Greece.
Although formal legislation has yet to be published, it’s expected the new e-invoicing measures by the Independent Public Revenue Authority, the Greek authority responsible for all tax matters (AADE; in Greek, “ΑΑΔΕ”), will be mandated by January 2020.
The Director of AADE recently stated that e-invoicing is incomplete without e-reporting, so the proposed rules must encompass both areas of tax compliance. By January 2020 the goal is for reporting to occur in real-time at the same time as the invoice is issued. The new rules would make e-invoicing and e-reporting mandatory, with a real-time connection from the invoicing system (by transmission of all relevant invoice data) to the electronic system (TaxisNet) of the Greek tax authorities.
Scope of reform
So far, no real action has been taken regarding the implementation of the new e-invoicing system, e.g. the e-invoicing process, e-invoice format requirements and the software systems to connect to the tax authority have not yet been defined. However, the Ministry of Finance recently published a Decision establishing certification requirements and describing the certification process and responsibilities for e-invoicing service providers, who would be able to perform services of issuance, delivery and archiving on behalf of the taxable person.
By comparison, more progress has been made for implementing real-time reporting. AADE has published the technical specifications for transmission of invoice data – however, the scope of the reporting framework covers other tax as well as invoice data – e.g. income tax – to the government portal (TaxisNet) and invoice data will need to be reported on a daily basis (instead of periodically as currently). These technical specifications apply to the connection from the so-called Greek “electronic fiscal devices” – which is the most commonly used compliant method for issuing (and ensuring integrity and authenticity of) B2C invoices in Greece – to TaxisNet, as well as the data transmission software operated by e-invoicing service providers.
For B2B invoices, whose integrity and authenticity can be guaranteed by any method of the EU Directive, no technical specifications have been published yet. Further clarification and legislative action by the tax administration is required. Details about service providers’ software systems and the government infrastructure are expected to be finalized by mid-2019.
Until the implementation of the new reporting framework whereby invoice data will be reported in real-time at the same time as the invoice is issued, AADE is working on the alternative that invoice data will be reported on a regular basis by the issuer only, and not the buyer, which should minimize the overall reporting workload and ensure uniqueness of data. The buyer will be able to amend the relevant reporting field on TaxisNet where there is insufficient invoice data from the supplier.
On 29 October 2018 the Government published a Bill to transpose the Directive 2014/55/EU on e-invoicing in public procurement; it however still needs to be approved. The Bill makes e-invoicing mandatory for both the supplier and the buyer/government in public procurement scenarios as of 1 April 2019.
Opportunity for structural change
AADE has clearly stated that mandatory e-invoicing would be incomplete without some type of combined transactional reporting; data should be created once and not several times as is currently the case. Therefore, we expect a type of “clearance” e-invoicing model in Greece, however at this stage it’s still too early to categorize the reform as being similar to Italy (“real” clearance e-invoicing) or more like Hungary (real-time reporting as soon as the invoice has been issued). Clearly, Greece is in line with the EU paradigm shift towards increased governmental control over transactional data and recognizes the benefits of tighter tax compliance and in taking steps to close its tax gap.
Even if the new measures aren’t particularly welcomed by many individuals in Greece – much in the spirit of a well-held opposition against EU austerity measures which have led to riots and social unrest in the past – these new measures are well positioned to provide the Greek tax administration and government with an opportunity for structural change. The use of technology will enable more effective tax controls and enforcement as well as a more efficient tax environment for business, leading to a positive knock-on effect for future restructuring and rebuilding of the Greek economy.
Joanna Hysi is a Regulatory Counsel at Sovos TrustWeaver. Based in Stockholm and originally from Greece, Joanna’s background is in commercial and corporate law with research focus on EU law and financial innovation. Joanna earned her degree in Law in Greece and her masters in Commercial and Corporate from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London.
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