When can an invoice be issued in a foreign language?

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Currently, entrepreneurs doing business with foreign contractors are wondering whether it is possible to issue invoices only in a foreign language, or whether it is necessary to prepare them in Polish. Taxpayers also have doubts about issuing bilingual invoices as to whether such a solution is allowed at all. In order to dispel doubts related to this issue, attention should be paid to what the provisions of Polish law provide on this subject.

Pursuant to Art. 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, the official language is Polish. However, the Minister of Finance took a position in this matter, claiming that the taxpayer is entitled to issue an invoice in a foreign language, as long as it is issued for the benefit of the entrepreneur, Polish or foreign, or for the benefit of a foreign consumer. He justified this by the absence of provisions in the VAT Act, which would explicitly forbid issuing invoices in a foreign language and additionally preparing invoices in Polish. Such a translation will not be considered a copy of the invoice. These applications are included in the interpretation of the Minister of Finance of September 5, 2012 No. PT8 / 033/203/688 / WCX / 12 / PT-694.

According to the regulation of the Minister of Finance on tax refund to certain taxpayers, issuing invoices, their storage and the list of goods and services to which the VAT exemption does not apply, the issued invoice should state in particular the sale, date of sale, price unit without tax, tax base, tax rate and amount, amount of receivable and data on the taxpayer and buyer. Detailed rules for issuing invoices are regulated in § 5 of the above-mentioned regulation. They remain the same, regardless of whether the invoice is in Polish or a foreign language.

In addition to the articles of tax law, the Act on the Polish language is also noteworthy, as it follows that issuing invoices in a foreign language is not possible in the case of the sale of goods or the provision of services to consumers. It follows that in each of the other cases, i.e. when invoices are issued to domestic and foreign VAT taxpayers, there is no obligation to issue them in Polish. This also applies to bilingual invoices.

INTERESTING FACT: A bilingual invoice may be issued to the consumer, provided that one of the languages ​​on the invoice is Polish.

However, it is worth paying special attention to § 12 sec. 1 of the Regulation of the Minister of Finance on keeping a tax book of revenues and expenses. It states that entries in the book are made in Polish and in Polish currency in a careful, legible and permanent manner, based on correct and reliable evidence. The basis for entries in the book are accounting vouchers, which are, among others invoices, VAT RR invoices, bills and customs documents, hereinafter referred to as "invoices", issued in accordance with separate regulations (§ 12 section 3 point 1).

Additionally, according to § 12 clause 4 above of the regulation, the accounting document should be drawn up in Polish. The content of the proof must be complete and understandable. If the document contains a valuable description of the business transaction only in a foreign currency, the taxpayer who has this document is obliged to convert the foreign currency into zlotys at the exchange rate applicable on the date of the transaction, in accordance with the principles set out in the Income Tax Act. The result of the conversion should be included in the blank fields of the proof or in the attachment to the proof drawn up in a foreign currency.

ATTENTION! The amount of VAT on the invoice should always be expressed in the Polish currency.

However, there may be a situation in which a taxpayer will be required to provide tax inspection authorities with translations of accounting documents prepared in a foreign language into Polish. This is in line with the Tax Ordinance, Art. 287 § 1 point 2, where the taxpayer is required to provide, at the request of the controlling party, a translation into Polish of the documentation drawn up in a foreign language on the matters being the subject of the inspection.