Electronic invoicing

Joost PeetersPartner, STUDIO | LEGALE

On July 22, 2010, an European directive[1] to enable electronic invoicing was adopted. In 2012, this directive has been transposed in Belgian legislation by means of the “Wet tot wijziging van de belasting over de toegevoegde waarde”[2]. (known as the “Wetboek belasting over de toegevoegde waarde”, which translates to Value Added Tax Code  hereafter referred to as: “VAT Code”)

An electronic invoice is defined by article 1, §13, 2° VAT Code as “an invoice that contains the information required in the Code and the implementation acts and which gets issued and received in any electronic format.”

Article 60, §5 VAT Code issues a few requirements an electronic invoice has to meet. The authenticity of the origin, the integrity of the content and the legibility of an invoice shall be ensured from the point in time of issue until the end of the period for storage of the invoice.

Authenticity of the origin means the assurance of the identity of the supplier or the issuer of the invoice. The integrity of the content is ensured when the content required according to the applicable regulations regarding invoicing, has not been altered. Lastly, the legibility of the invoice has to be ensured. (art. 60, §5 VAT Code)

Each taxable person shall determine the way to ensure the authenticity of the origin, the integrity of the content and the legibility of the invoice. Article 60, §5 VAT Code stipulates that any business controls, by example properly implemented accounts, which create a reliable audit trail between an invoice and a supply of goods or services, can be used as a guarantee.

However, the use of electronic invoicing is subject to acceptance by the recipient of the invoice (article 53, §2 VAT Code). Consequently, an electronic invoice can be rejected.

In addition, in consumer-relations it’s not permitted to impose an additional in case of rejection of an electronic invoice by the consumer (Art. VI.83, 33° WER). The question whether charging of additional fees to enterprises is allowed, was answered in a parliamentary question and response by stating they aren’t taking measurements to prohibit charging that kind of fees to enterprises.[3]

We believe charging a limited additional fee should be deemed possible, as long as this fee corresponds to the actual cost and is included unambiguously in the Terms and Conditions.

Lastly, an Code of Conduct has been adopted in regards to electronic invoicing. This Code can be consulted and signed online.[4]

[1] Council Directive 2010/45/EU of 13 July 2010 amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards the rules on invoicing, Pb. L. 22 July 2010.

[2] Wet 17 december 2012 tot wijziging van de belasting over de toegevoegde waarde, BS 21 december 2012.

[3] Vr. en Antw. Kamer 2014-2015, 7 september 2015, nr. 0341 (Vr: Leen Dierick, antw: vice-eerste minister en minister van Werk, Economie en Consumenten, belast met Buitenlandse Handel van 01 september 2015)

[4] https://efactuur.belgium.be/nl/gedragscode