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Italy set for business-to-business e-invoicing

The Government encourages electronic invoicing between taxpayers to increase transparency, combat tax avoidance and conserve paper.

Introduction

Mandatory electronic invoicing for supplies made to Italian public administrative entities has been in force since 31 March 2015.

With Legislative Decree No. 127 of 5 August 2015, the Italian Government has introduced measures to encourage electronic invoicing between taxpayers, which apply from 1 January 2017.

“Businesses should carefully consider implementing the new regime, not only for the benefits provided by the Government but also for the commercial and practical advantages.“


The measures seek to reduce the administrative and accounting burdens on taxpayers by urging private businesses to implement electronic invoicing and payment transmission.

The decree provides that:

1)      Since 1 July 2016, a service for creating, transmitting and retaining electronic business-to-business (B2B) invoices has been available for free to all taxpayers registered for value-added tax (VAT).

2)      Effective 1 January 2017, it will be possible to transmit the following items for free through the tax authority electronic system — the Exchange System:[i]

  • Invoices issued to private businesses (currently, the Exchange System is available only for invoices issued to the public administration). Technical documentation has been drafted on the rules and tools related to this procedure.
  • Data related to sale and purchase invoices to be transmitted to the tax authorities.

3)      Effective 1 January 2017, taxpayers can electronically record and transmit to the tax authorities the data related to payments made by private individuals to retailers. (This new procedure will be mandatory for amounts paid through vending machines and automatic distribution machines, such as those at a railway or bus station.) The tools necessary for issuing the certificates, and for identifying and activating these devices, have been available since July 2016 (see below).

The following resources are now available on the Italian Revenue Agency website:[ii]

  • A free application for creating, transmitting and archiving invoices issued between private businesses (see the section on “Invoices and Payments” below).
  • Drafts of technical documents for using the Exchange System for private business supplies. The web platform is already in use for mandatory electronic invoicing for supplies to public bodies. The drafts contain rules for complying with the Exchange System and the layout for electronic invoices (both standard and simplified) to be transmitted through the system starting next year. Based on the outcome of the testing phase, which ended in October 2016, supporting tools and instructions will be modified and improved.

‘Invoices and Payments’ web service

The new “Invoices and Payments” application available on the tax authorities’ website provides VAT taxpayers (businesses, artisans and professionals) with specific services for:

  • Creating, transmitting and archiving electronic invoices (issued to either public bodies or private businesses)
  • Transmitting invoice data to the tax authorities (for invoices both issued and received)
  • Recording and transmitting data on payments received by retailers

Businesses wishing to access the web service must use the credentials granted for electronic services (i.e., Entratel or Fisconline), or the National Services Card (CNS) and the Public System of Digital Identity (SPID).

VAT taxpayers must access the service from the “Invoices” section and choose one of the following options: creation, transmission and retention.

An invoice can be created from a document previously set up or imported from files in the XML format (extensible markup language) in one of three layouts: ordinary, simplified and public administration (PA).

During the creation of the electronic invoice, the system will perform immediate checks on the validity and existence of the tax information to reduce the risk of errors.

The Exchange System will commence operation on 1 January 2017, using the same rules now in force for electronic invoices issued to public administrative bodies; basically, the current system has been updated to manage invoices addressed to private businesses.

The new web service allows the mandatory retention of electronic invoices, either issued or received, by applying a time stamp (marca temporale) to invoices issued to private businesses.

Vending machine payments

Rules have been established for recording and transmitting payments made through vending machines or automatic distributors.

Effective 1 January 2017:

  • Retailers and similar businesses[iii] may opt to electronically record and transmit to the tax authorities information related to their daily gross takings for supplies of goods and services.
  • Electronic recording and transmission of this data will be mandatory for businesses making supplies of goods sold through vending machines.

Statutory Notice No. 102807 of 30 June 2016[iv] defines the information to be communicated, the layout and the technical methods to be used to promote data authenticity, integrity and privacy.

The tax authorities will also make a specific section of the website available to these businesses to identify individual devices and to release the necessary certificates.

At the end of the identification stage, the tax authorities will provide a bidimensional bar code (QR code) to be applied to each device so consumers can see that tax authorities know about the vending machine and will receive its payment data.

Consumers can check the device by capturing the QR code with a smartphone.

The data will be electronically “sealed” and transmitted online to the tax authorities using a safe channel.

The electronic seal will be applied through a digital certificate released by the tax authorities to the operator of the vending machine, which will protect the authenticity, integrity and privacy of payment data.

The benefits

The new rules will eliminate:

  • The obligation for retailers to issue tax receipts, unless a customer asks for an invoice
  • The electronic transmission to the tax authorities of the total daily gross takings received by businesses operating in the retail sector[v]

Incentives for B2B electronic invoicing

Effective 1 January 2017, all VAT taxpayers who implement the new regime of electronic invoicing and transmission will benefit from compliance simplifications related to:

  • Communication of their relevant VAT transactions (the Spesometro)[vi]
  • Communication of data related to transactions with businesses located in blacklisted countries[vii]
  • Intrastat declarations related to intra-European Union (EU) purchases of goods and services[viii]

Other incentives include:

  • Priority annual VAT refunds, to be paid within three months after the claim is filed[ix]
  • A one-year reduction in the statute of limitations for VAT[x] and income taxes[xi] for taxpayers who promote the transparency of payments received and made
  • Audit checks carried out remotely without interfering with the taxpayer’s business operations

Conclusions

Electronic invoicing has been mandatory in Italy’s public sector for years.

Now the Government is encouraging private businesses to follow suit to make transactions more transparent, to combat tax avoidance and to reduce the use of paper.

Italy is offering incentives rather than penalties to encourage wider adoption of electronic invoicing.

Businesses should carefully consider implementing the new regime, not only for the benefits provided by the Government but also for the commercial and practical advantages.

Electronic invoicing:

  • Reduces fraud
  • Streamlines business transactions
  • Creates efficiency savings

Endnotes

[1] Under Article 25 of DL No. 66/2014, modified by Article 6, comma 3, DM of 3 April 2013.

[2] The Exchange System is known as the Sistema di Intercambio (SDI). It is an electronic system managed by the tax office, capable of:

  • Receiving invoices in file format with characteristics of the “Invoice PA” (pursuant to DM No. 55 of 3 April 2013)
  • Performing checks on the files received
  • Forwarding the invoices to the public administration as recipients

[3] In particular, on the website of the tax authorities, in the section “Strumenti > Specifiche tecniche > Specifiche tecniche in bozza.”

[4] In accordance with Article 22 of Presidential Decree No. 633/1972.

[5] Definition of the information, technical rules, tools and timing for the electronic recording and transmission to the tax authorities of the daily takings received through vending machines, pursuant to Article 2, commas 2 and 4, of Legislative Decree No. 127 of 5 August 2015.

[6] Under Article 1, commas 429–432, Law. No. 311/2004, abrogated by Article 7 of Legislative Decree No. 127/2015.

[7] Article 21, DL No. 78/2010.

[8] Article 1, comma 1, DL No. 40/2010, as modified by Article 21, D.Lgs. No. 175/2014.

[9] Article 50, comma 6, DL No. 331/1993.

[10] Under Article 30 of Presidential Decree. No. 633/1972.

[11] Under Article 57, comma 1, DPR No. 633/1972.

[12] Under Article 43, comma 1, DPR No. 600/1973.

CONTACT

Nicoletta Mazzitelli

nicoletta.mazzitelli@it.ey.com

+39 06 85567323

 

Stefano Pavesi

stefano.pavesi@it.ey.com

+39 02 85143646

 

Emanuele Muolo

emanuele.muolo@it.ey.com

+39 02 85143458

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