by Bert Vandorpe
At the end of September, the Council of Ministers reached an agreement on the introduction of electronic invoicing. This agreement builds on a preliminary draft law that was presented in May.
An electronic invoice is an invoice that is created, sent and received in a structured electronic form that allows it to be processed automatically and electronically. A pure PDF invoice, for example, no longer meets this definition.
Standardisation takes place according to the 'PEPPOL bis' format and the invoice is issued via the PEPPOL network. Deviations are tolerated as long as they comply with the European standard.
If we can build on the preliminary draft, electronic invoicing will apply in the B2B context. All VAT-liable suppliers and customers established in Belgium, as well as members of VAT units and Belgian permanent establishments, will be subject to the obligation.
The new obligation does not apply to suppliers taxed under the flat-rate scheme, bankrupt suppliers or taxable persons who only carry out exempt transactions (with or without the right to deduct).
A standard electronic invoice need not be issued to purchasers of occasional sales of new buildings and occasional intra-Community sales of new means of transport. It is also not necessary to issue an electronic invoice to customers who only carry out VAT-exempt transactions.
However, it is always possible to deviate from this in the approved agreement.
The obligation to issue an electronic invoice applies to any supply of goods or services carried out in Belgium for VAT purposes.
Whether other transactions will be included depends on the draft law that has not yet been published.
While the preliminary draft spoke of the implementation of e-invoicing from 1 January 2024, the adopted agreement deviates from this. The new agreement states that e-invoicing will be implemented from 1 January 2026.
The Belgian administration will also ensure that there is a sufficient transition period and that a broad information campaign is launched for all stakeholders.
In our opinions, we rely on current legislation, interpretations and legal doctrine. This does not prevent the administration from disputing them or from changing existing interpretations.
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