Issue and storage of copies of VAT invoices in the PDF file format, if the original invoice is in paper form
INDIVIDUAL INTERPRETATION IPPP3-443-816 / 10-2 / JF 4.11.2010 Tax Chamber in Warsaw
Based on Article. 14b § 1 and § 6 of the Act of August 29, 1997 - Tax Ordinance (consolidated text Journal of Laws of 2005, No. 8, item 60, as amended) and § 7 of the Regulation of the Minister of Finance of 20 June 2007 on the authorization to issue interpretations of tax law (Journal of Laws of 2007, No. 112, item 770, as amended). Director of the Tax Chamber in Warsaw, acting on behalf of the Minister of Finance, states that the position of the Company, presented in the application of July 27, 2010 (received on August 24, 2010), for a written interpretation of the tax law regarding tax on goods and services in the field of issuing and storing copies of invoices in the PDF file format when the original invoice is in paper form - is incorrect.
On August 24, 2010, the above-mentioned application for a written interpretation of the tax law in an individual case regarding tax on goods and services in the field of issuing and storing copies of invoices in the PDF file format, when the original invoice is in paper form.
The following future event is presented in the present application:
The company runs a business consisting in the sale of electronic equipment. The company documents the provision of the above activities by issuing the invoices referred to in Art. 106 sec. 1 of the VAT Act (it should be emphasized that these are not electronic invoices referred to in Article 106 (10) of the VAT Act). The above invoices, i.e. both originals and copies, are issued using an IT accounting system that allows you to print them on paper. As soon as an invoice is created in the financial and accounting system, it is registered in the accounting and tax books (including the register kept for the purposes of VAT settlement).
At present, the Company immediately prints invoices marked "ORIGINAL", which are handed over to customers - buyers of the Company's goods. The corresponding invoices marked as "COPY" are kept by the Company in its documentation.
Currently, the Company plans to implement a new invoice issuing system. Items marked "ORIGINAL" will continue to be printed and given to customers. However, in relation to the "COPIES" of invoices - because the Company's IT system allows you to generate them in an electronic version, and then save them on the Company's disk in a non-editable PDF format, in a permanent, safe and legible manner - the Company intends not to print these documents at the same time as printing "ORIGINAL". Copies stored in this format, both before and after their possible printing, will contain all the elements provided for in the Regulation on sending invoices, including the indication "COPY". At any time, e.g. in the event of a possible inspection by tax authorities, the Company would provide access to the archived electronic version of invoices in PDF format, as well as the possibility of immediate printing.
The company is able to create the necessary infrastructure for archiving copies of invoices. The computer system used by the Company to issue invoices would have appropriate security and would enable full data archiving, including the storage of copies of invoices, their corrections and duplicates in a way that allows them to be easily located. In addition, it is possible to use the resources of a European data center that could provide the necessary disk space, a backup and disaster recovery system, as well as a system to manage this archive. Alternatively, the Company is also considering using the services of external companies specialized in archiving electronic invoices.
Due to the fact that in the financial year the Company issues approx. 88 thousand invoices, storing copies of issued invoices in a material (paper) form involves additional costs for the Company and causes problems with storing a large number of documents, and consequently may significantly delay the process of submitting tax documentation to the tax authorities in the event of a possible tax inspection.
In light of the above, the following questions were asked:
- If the original invoice is made in paper form, its copy can be considered correctly issued if the Company collects the information necessary for its preparation in its financial and accounting system and prepares and records it in the form of an electronic PDF file and enters the invoice? in accounting and tax books (including the VAT register).
- Is it possible for the Company to store copies of the invoices referred to in question 1 in electronic form in PDF format without printing them?
According to the Applicant:
Ad.1. In a situation where the original invoice is made in paper form, its copy can be considered correctly issued. In the event that the Company collects information necessary for its preparation in its financial and accounting system, it will prepare and record it in the form of an electronic PDF file and book the invoice in the accounting and tax books (including the VAT register). The company would like to point out that pursuant to Art. 106 sec. 1 of the VAT Act, the taxpayers referred to in art. 15, are required to issue an invoice stating, in particular, the sale, date of sale. Moreover, pursuant to § 19 para. 1 of the regulation on issuing invoices, invoices and corrective invoices are issued at least in two copies, the original being received by the buyer and the copy kept by the seller. As can be seen, these regulations do not define the concept of issuing a VAT invoice, the more so do not indicate that issuing an invoice means making it on a strictly defined medium (e.g. paper). For obvious reasons, in order to fulfill the obligation to deliver the invoice to the buyer of the goods / service, the taxpayer is obliged to put the content of the invoice on a paper carrier (or if the option to issue and send invoices in electronic form is used, the invoice may be sent via an electronic link). Nevertheless, in the opinion of the Company, the invoice is issued as soon as it is created as an electronic file in its financial and accounting system, entered in the registers kept for accounting and tax purposes (including the VAT register), and then recorded in PDF format and saved in the computer's memory. The printout of the original invoice is only of a technical nature, secondary to the creation (issue) in the financial system. It is at this stage that all the most important elements that shape the legal and tax factual status of the documented transaction are identified, such as:
- determining the subject of the transaction
- determining the quantity and price of the goods sold
- determination of the rate and calculation of the amount of VAT due
- specification of the invoice issue date
These elements, after creating an invoice in the format of saving on the hard disk of the Company, are automatically entered in the appropriate VAT register. Regardless of that, the file is printed and sent as the original of the VAT invoice to the buyer of the Company's goods.
In the opinion of the Company, it can be concluded that the invoice is issued at the moment of its creation in the financial and accounting system of the Company as electronic files and its appropriate posting in this system (including the VAT register). The activity of printing in paper format and sending the original invoice to the buyer, which follows after creating the file, is already a technical activity, which, however, is not as important (for the invoice issuer) as determining all relevant elements in the financial and accounting system and accounting for the relevant amounts (including VAT) ) as due. At this point, the Company would like to draw attention to the fact that the analysis of court and administrative judgments shows the importance of creating an invoice in the financial and accounting system and at the same time posting it.
For example, in the judgment of the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw of February 28, 2008 (file no. III SA / Wa 1940/07), the Court confirmed the position of the tax authority that "these invoices (they were internal invoices - the Company's note) were entered into legal transactions, because the complainant, on the basis of incorrectly issued internal invoices, prepared records kept for the purposes of VAT, on the basis of which she made VAT-7 returns, and thus treated these internal invoices as documents existing in legal transactions and having tax law effects, and constituting a legal basis for the recognition of the resulting receivables ".
In this judgment, the Court expressed the position that internal invoices, which as a rule are not subject to the obligation to deliver to the buyer, produce legal effects (unified text were introduced into legal circulation) because they were entered into the VAT register. In the judgment under discussion, the Court did not make the possibility of producing legal effects of an invoice dependent on its printing on a paper medium.
The above conclusions can also be applied to copies of invoices which - in accordance with the provisions of the Regulation on issuing invoices - are (like internal invoices) retained by the seller. It should be stated that the invoices (both the original and the copy) were issued as a result of their creation in the financial and accounting system of the Company and entering them into the relevant accounting and VAT registers. In the opinion of the Company, the fact that copies of paper invoices have not been printed (while creating them in PDF format) should not be tantamount to not issuing them, regardless of the fact that the original was placed on such a medium. In the opinion of the Company, it is possible that the original invoice is placed on a paper carrier, while a copy is issued in its financial and accounting system as an electronic record, which at any time (e.g. in the case of a tax audit) can be transferred to a paper carrier. . Thus, if the original invoice is drawn up on a paper carrier, and the copy - in an electronic format - the obligation set out in § 19 section 1 of the Regulation on issuing invoices, according to which invoices are issued at least in two copies. In this case, the original will be in paper form, and the copy - in electronic form, i.e. a file in PDF format.
Ad.2. It is possible for the Company to store copies of the invoices referred to in question 1 in electronic form, in PDF form, without printing them., / P>
The rules for issuing and storing invoices have been set out in detail in the regulation on issuing invoices. Pursuant to § 21 of this regulation, taxpayers are required to keep the originals and copies of invoices and corrective invoices, as well as duplicates of these documents until the tax liability expires.
Moreover, as stipulated in para. 2 of the above regulation, these documents are stored in their original form, broken down into accounting periods and in a way that allows their easy retrieval.
The Company notes that, although the above regulations relate to certain aspects of storing copies of invoices (consolidated textthe date and manner of their storage), however, do not specify the form in which the taxpayer may keep this copy. The provision of § 21 para. 2 of the Regulation on issuing invoices, however, indicates the obligation to store invoices in their original form. In the opinion of the Company, assuming that the copy of the invoice will be made in the form of an electronic file, storing it in this form on the Company's disk will satisfy the requirement to keep the invoice in its original form.
At the same time, in the opinion of the Company, it should be considered that the provisions of the Regulation on issuing invoices do not prohibit storing copies of invoices in electronic form, i.e. in a manner that is enabled by the Company's IT accounting system. Consequently, as long as the above method ensures the fulfillment of the conditions set out in the Regulation on issuing invoices (regarding the content of copies of invoices, the date and method of their storage, etc.). in the opinion of the Company, keeping electronic copies of invoices is acceptable.
At the same time, in the opinion of the Company, storing copies of invoices in electronic format does not depend on meeting the conditions provided for in the Regulation of the Minister of Finance of July 14, 2005 on issuing and sending invoices in electronic form, as well as storing and making available to the tax authority or control authority. tax of these invoices (hereinafter: the Regulation on electronic invoices). In the opinion of the Company, the requirements listed in § 4 of the Regulation on electronic invoices (unit text, the need to secure the authenticity of origin and integrity of invoices by using an electronic signature or EDI system) apply to situations in which invoices are simultaneously: issued, sent and stored (by the buyer) in electronic form. The use of these safeguards is justified in a situation where:
- after it is issued in the accounting system, the invoice is sent to the customer via electronic links (during this transmission, the form and content of the invoice may be disrupted / damaged),
- the original invoice is to be stored by the customer in electronic form and the taxpayer is to exercise the right to deduct input VAT based on such an electronic document.
In the situation of a Company that intends to store only a copy of the invoice in electronic form, the security specified in § 4 of the Regulation on electronic invoices is not needed, as:
- the original of each invoice made in paper form, so the authenticity of the electronic copy can be checked each time by checking the original,
- invoices will not be sent to customers in electronic form, so there is no need to use the EDI system (single text of the European electronic data exchange model), or to confirm the authenticity of the invoice with an electronic signature (the use of this signature is justified in order to prove the authenticity of the invoice in the case of its sending to the customer by electronic means)
The Company emphasizes that the solution proposed by it, consisting in storing copies of invoices in electronic form, does not mean that the Company would neglect the obligation to issue them. It is necessary to distinguish between issuing a copy of the invoice (which, according to the Company, takes place when it is generated in the IT accounting system), and its possible, subsequent printing (which is only a technical activity and may take place many times). Moreover, in the opinion of the Company, "issuing" an invoice is a broader concept than "printing" an invoice, and taking into account the rationality of the legislator, it should be assumed that if his intention was to impose an obligation on taxpayers to print copies of the invoice and corrective invoices, the relevant provision would be included directly in the content of the act legal.
The above conclusion further highlights the obvious distinction between originals and copies of an invoice. The former are introduced into legal circulation, while the latter are only valid as evidence and constitute an internal document.
The method of storing copies of invoices presented by the Company is also justified because storing copies of invoices in an electronic form turns out to be a more effective solution in practice.
First of all, it should be pointed out that IT security allows for the preservation of integrity, i.e. they exclude the possibility of interfering with the content of the stored copies of invoices. In addition, the storage of electronic invoices is a more secure solution, as it significantly reduces the risk of irreversible, physical destruction (burning, flooding, fading, etc.) or loss. IT security, copying electronic data carriers of disks and the possibility of their re-acquisition in the event of possible failures speak in favor of the electronic form of storing copies of invoices.
It should also be emphasized that the absolute obligation to store copies of invoices in paper form would lead to significant difficulties for taxpayers who have to acquire additional space / rooms for their storage, which in turn entails additional costs and workload.
The company emphasizes that the presented position is confirmed by the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 3 November 2009, ref. No. I FSK 1169/08. In this judgment, issued in an almost identical factual state, the Supreme Administrative Court states, inter alia, that: "no provision of the regulation mentions a printed copy of an invoice. This means that the normative has not reserved the printed form as the only one that can be stored". Moreover, as the Supreme Administrative Court notes, "there are no normative contraindications to the existence of a" mixed "system for sending and storing invoices, consisting in sending an invoice in paper form and storing a copy of it in electronic form, ready to be printed at any request of an authorized body. also purposeful considerations, such as ecological or economic ". Moreover, as stated by the Supreme Administrative Court in this judgment, the interpretation of the provisions, according to which it is possible to store invoices in a durable, readable and unedited electronic format, ensures that the documentation obligations under Art. 246 of Directive 2006/112 / EC of the Council on the common system of value added tax (hereinafter: the VAT Directive). The Company reminds that in accordance with this provision, the authenticity of the origin and integrity of the content of the invoices, as well as their legibility, must be ensured throughout the storage period of invoices.
Referring to this issue, in the aforementioned judgment, the Supreme Administrative Court stated that in the question asked the complaining party guarantees the required under Art. 246 of the Directive, the features of copies of invoices and undertakes to print them at every request of an authorized body, while maintaining the requirement to mark the copy of the invoice with the word "COPY". Therefore, from the point of view of the function to be performed by storing copies of invoices, there are no contraindications to the interpretation of the provisions in question, as proposed by the complainant.
In the analyzed situation, the method of issuing and storing copies of invoices - similarly to the quoted judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court - also allows for the fulfillment of the conditions referred to in Art. 246. of the VAT Directive, because the copies of invoices stored by it in PDF format ensure the authenticity of their origin, integrity of the content and legibility. Moreover, the Company declares its readiness to print copies of invoices at every request of the controlling party. Thus, the conclusions presented in the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 3 November 2009 should, in the Company's opinion, apply also in the discussed case. Although the above judgment was issued on the basis of the no longer binding regulation of the Minister of Finance of May 25, 2005, however, due to the identical wording of the relevant regulations, it remains valid also in the current legal status.
In the light of the applicable legal status, the Applicant's position on the legal assessment of the presented future event is considered incorrect.
Pursuant to Art. 106 sec. 1 of the Act of March 11, 2004 on tax on goods and services (Journal of Laws No. 54, item 535, as amended), the taxpayers referred to in Art. 15, are required to issue an invoice stating, in particular, the sale, date of sale, unit price without tax, tax base, tax rate and amount, the amount of the duty and the data of the taxpayer and the buyer, subject to paragraph 2. 2, 4 and 5 and article. 119 paragraph. 10 and art. 120 paragraph 6.
The above regulations show that the taxpayers who make the sale should issue invoices documenting the activities performed. In the aspect of the case under consideration, it is important to decide what should be understood by the term "to issue". According to the Dictionary of the Polish Language (Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warsaw 1994), the date issued should be understood as: unsubscribe, fill in, issue, e.g. issue a check, bill, document. Thus, the term "issue" means drawing up a document, in this case an invoice, for the use of the contractor - the recipient of the goods or service. The preparation of such an invoice consists in including in the document with this name, the necessary data, in particular the sale, date of sale, unit price without tax, tax base, tax rate and amount, amount of receivables and data on the taxpayer and buyer. There is no doubt that the legal existence of the issued invoice comes down to placing it on the market, i.e. handing over (delivering) the invoice in question to the contractor.
On the basis of the delegation contained in art. 106 sec. 8 of the Act, detailed rules on invoices are regulated in the Regulation of the Minister of Finance of November 28, 2008 on tax refunds to certain taxpayers, issuing invoices, their storage and the list of goods and services to which VAT exemptions do not apply and services (Journal of Laws No. 212, item 1337, as amended), hereinafter referred to as the regulation.
Pursuant to § 4 sec. 1 of the regulation, taxpayers registered as active VAT payers, with a tax identification number, issue invoices marked with the words "VAT INVOICE". It is true that both the act and the above-mentioned the regulation does not explicitly specify the form in which the invoice is to be issued. It should be noted, however, that according to § 19 para. 1 of the regulation, invoices and corrective invoices are issued at least in two copies, the original being received by the buyer and the copy kept by the seller. The original of the invoice and the correcting invoice should contain the word "ORIGINAL", and the copy of the invoice and the correcting invoice - the word "COPY" (§ 19 (2) of the Regulation).
Pursuant to § 21 sec. 1 of the regulation, taxpayers are obliged to keep the originals and copies of invoices and corrective invoices, as well as duplicates of these documents until the tax liability expires. The documents referred to in paragraph 1. 1, are stored in their original form, broken down into accounting periods and in a way that allows their easy retrieval (§ 21 (2) of the Regulation). This way of regulating the issue of invoices, issuing two copies and issuing one buyer and keeping the other for himself, unambiguously requires the issuer of the invoice to prepare it in paper form. Consequently, such a VAT invoice is a document issued in accordance with applicable regulations. Such an invoice entitles the buyer of goods and services to reduce the output tax by the input tax resulting from the invoices in question.
In addition to the traditional paper form, tax regulations provide for the issuance of invoices in electronic form. Invoices issued in this form have been regulated in the Regulation of the Minister of Finance of July 14, 2005 on issuing and sending invoices in electronic form, as well as storing and making these invoices available to the tax authority or tax inspection authority (Journal of Laws of 2005, No. No. 133, item 1119).
The provisions of the above regulation also allow for the possibility of storing VAT invoices in electronic form. However, these provisions only apply to situations where invoices are kept in electronic form (without changing their form) from the moment they are issued, through sending, to storage. In connection with the above, since the legislator took into account the possibility of issuing, sending and storing VAT invoices in electronic form, and also regulated this issue with separate provisions that do not apply to the storage of invoices issued in a form other than electronic.
In connection with the above, it should be considered that it is not possible to store in an electronic form an invoice, one of its copies in paper form has been handed over to the contractor. Issuing an invoice in paper form means choosing the form of the invoice issued. The choice made also qualifies the method of storing these documents. In addition, it should be noted that there is no legal basis for the use of such a mixed mode, in which, on the one hand, invoices would be issued in paper form, while copies of invoices would be stored on the terms applicable to electronic invoices. It should also be indicated that the invoice with the word "COPY" is the second copy of the same document named "ORIGINAL". Thus, the "COPY" of the invoice does not constitute a separate document from the "ORIGINAL" of the invoice and is its integral part. The nomenclature is used to indicate that the original is received by the buyer and the copy is retained by the seller. Therefore, issuing one copy of the invoice in paper form indicates the choice of the paper form of the invoice and this form should be taken as the original form of issuing referred to in § 21 section 2 of the regulation and, at the same time, to store these documents.
The legal analysis carried out shows that the above regulations do not provide for taxpayers to be able to store in electronic form copies of sales invoices when the "ORIGINAL" invoices were issued in paper form, even if it is possible to print them if necessary. On the contrary, they oblige the taxpayer to keep copies of sales invoices and correction invoices in their original form when the original documents were issued.
The presented circumstances of the case show that the Applicant issues a large number of sales invoices monthly. The applicant considers the possibility of issuing a VAT invoice marked as "ORIGINAL" (intended for the buyer) in paper form. The second copy, marked as "COPY", would be issued in an electronic version and kept in the same electronic form, with the possibility of printing them out if necessary.
Taking into account the above-mentioned provisions, it should be stated that the Applicant is not allowed to issue invoices in a "mixed" form, i.e. original in paper form, and copies in electronic form, and then storing copies of issued VAT invoices only in electronic form (without printing them ), even if it is possible to reproduce them in the form of a printout, if the original of these documents was in a printed (paper) form. In a situation where the Applicant does not issue electronic invoices within the meaning of the provisions of the Regulation on electronic invoices, he is obliged to make copies of the issued invoices in paper form and store them in this form.
The interpretation concerns the future event presented by the Applicant and the legal status in force on the date of issuing the interpretation.