Criminal liability related to invoicing


Invoices must be honest and non-defective. Entrepreneurs should remember that otherwise they may face criminal liability. Check their criminal liability related to invoicing.

The concept of an invoice

The VAT Act defines what an invoice is: it is understood as a document in paper or electronic form, containing the data required by the Act and regulations issued on its basis. The ordinance of the Minister of Finance on issuing invoices specifies who is authorized to issue an invoice and the elements it should contain.

Invoices can be issued by both active and exempt VAT payers. Its elements, however, include:

  • date of issue,
  • a sequential number that uniquely identifies the invoice,
  • names and surnames or names of the taxpayer and buyer of goods or services and their addresses,
  • NIP numbers of the seller and the buyer,
  • the date of sale, i.e. the date of completion or completion of the delivery of goods or the performance of the service, if such a date is specified and differs from the invoice issue date; in the case of continuous sales, the taxpayer may indicate the month and year of sale on the invoice,
  • name of the product or service,
  • measure and quantity of delivered goods / scope of services performed,
  • the net unit price of a good or service,
  • the amount of any rebates, including for early receipt of receivables, unless they are included in the net unit price,
  • net sales value,
  • tax rate,
  • the sum of the net sales value with the division into sales subject to individual tax rates and sales exempt from tax,
  • the amount of tax on the sum of the net sales value, broken down into amounts related to individual tax rates,
  • the total amount due.

Types of offenses

The list of types of prohibited acts includes:

  • failure to issue an invoice, despite the entrepreneur's obligation,
  • issuing an invoice in a defective or unreliable manner,
  • deliberate destruction or concealment of an invoice,
  • failure to keep the invoice within the period provided for by law,
  • alteration or forgery of an invoice received.

Penalties prescribed by the penal code and the fiscal penal code

Persons responsible for prohibited acts related to invoices are subject to:

  • failure to issue, issue in a defective manner or refuse to issue - a fine of up to 180 daily rates,
  • issuing in an unreliable manner or using such a document - punishable by a fine of up to 240 daily rates,
  • not keeping the invoice within the statutory deadline - fine up to 180 daily rates,
  • not keeping records of business activity or conducting it in an unreliable or untruthful manner, in particular by destroying, deleting, hiding, altering or forging documents relating to this activity - imprisonment for up to 3 years or from 3 months to 5 years if a significant pecuniary damage.

Importantly, an entrepreneur who, contrary to the provisions of the Act, makes a sale without the cash register or fails to issue a document from the cash register, is also subject to a penalty of up to 180 daily rates.

Criminal liability related to invoicing and inadvertent acts

The penalties described above will apply to crimes committed intentionally. Art. 4 §2 of the Penal Code A prohibited act is committed intentionally, if the perpetrator intends to commit it, that is, he or she wants to commit it or foresees the possibility of committing it, he agrees to it. Pursuant to §3 of the same Article: a prohibited act is committed unintentionally, if the perpetrator has no intention of committing it, but commits it as a result of not maintaining the caution required in the given circumstances, despite the fact that the possibility of committing this act was anticipated or foreseen. Therefore, the entrepreneur will not be held liable in the event of making an unintentional mistake or mistake.