Preparing for the mandatory electronic invoicing revolution

Legal

Olivier Dussopt, Minister Delegate in charge of Public Accounts, inaugurated the Bercy electronic invoicing conference on February 10, 2022.


As part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Minister Delegate for Public Accounts organized a symposium Electronic invoicing: lever for the digital transformation of companies and the administration on February 10, 2022 Bercy. Its purpose was to take stock of the next mandatory electronic invoicing in conjunction with other European initiatives. The real-time exploitation of economic data is one of the major challenges of the project.

He publishesBetween July 2024 and January 2026, all companies will have to switch to electronic invoicing between professionals. The date of the obligation to issue all (outgoing) invoices in an electronic format varies according to the size of each company, while all will have to accept electronic (incoming) invoices from July 2024. This revolution is approved by professional organizations such as the MEDEF or sectoral federations even if certain reservations are made. In principle, everyone should be a winner: the state, of course, but also every company. On February 10, 2022, the Minister Delegate for Public Accounts organized a symposium Electronic invoicing: lever for the digital transformation of businesses and the Bercy administration to take stock of the issue with interventions from foreign ministers (in particular from Italy, of Spain, and Portugal).

Indeed, this project was presented by Olivier Dussopt, Minister Delegate in charge of Public Accounts who inaugurated the symposium, as being above all a challenge of modernizing the economy. The exploitation of economic data in real time is intimately linked to the subject of multiple levels. If the symposium was organized within the framework of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, it is no coincidence either: advancing the subject at European level is one of the axes chosen by the government for this semester. Several European countries already have such electronic invoicing more or less generalized: Portugal, Italy and Spain are the most advanced and already allow real feedback.

Companies and State both winners

According to an estimate by the Minister of Public Accounts, the direct gains for companies would amount to around 4.5 billion euros thanks to the simplification of tax declarations and the elimination of paper handling, shipping costs, etc. . The basic problem is that four million companies (the smallest), in France, today have purely paper invoicing. Once the switch has been made by everyone, Bercy’s promise is to pre-fill tax declarations, in particular VAT declarations. But it is, especially for small businesses, a real revolution transforming the processes: the boss (especially the craftsman) will completely lose control over invoicing to the benefit of the accountant or chartered accountant. According to accounting organizations, firms do all the accounting (not just auditing and tax filings) for 80% of clients! These are the customers for whom the current reform will be the most complicated.

He publishesOn the state side, the stakes are colossal. First, the state will be able to monitor economic flows directly or almost directly via invoice flow aggregates. These figures will allow real macro-economic management and focus of interventions as accurately as possible and as close as possible to real needs. Portugal and Italy were thus able to support the companies most in difficulty at the time of the health crisis. In France, this information will enrich the data used by Signals-Faibles, the state start-up set up to detect companies starting to experience difficulties in order to help them before it is too late. Among the indicators that will eventually be monitored, there are in particular payment deadlines. Finally, the fight against fraud is obviously on the menu. The European Union estimates the level of VAT fraud at 134 billion euros per year (good faith errors included), the project making it possible to increase the collection of good faith by 25 billion (the rest of the real fraud whose detection will be improved, in particular so-called carousel fraud). Italy has already improved its VAT collection by two billion euros per year.

European harmonization and support requested by companies

The objective remains to largely harmonize practices at European level in order to facilitate the integration of processes in multinational or transnational companies. The European Commission is currently working on the subject and Olivier Dussopt recalled France’s strong attachment to this subject. But the business support systems are a matter of subsidiarity. In France, a free-to-use public portal will be implemented, but private players will be required to offer portals with more services. Geoffroy Roux de Bzieux, President of the Medef, insisted, during a video intervention during the colloquium, on the need not to impose excessive transformation costs on companies, especially the smallest ones, and to ensure harmony at European level. . The question of formats is central, not only for harmonization between countries but also for managing automatic integration into the IS of companies and the State. The processing of data from invoicing is also an opportunity for companies.

The Medef would like to take advantage of the dematerialization of invoicing, with the induced facilitation of controls, to lighten the formal obligations of companies such as the reliable audit trail, which is no longer compulsory in Portugal but is still so in Italy. For the DGFiP, a reliable audit trail should remain a requirement. In Portugal, the problem of invoicing spam has not been encountered but remains a concern for Medef. It is in fact either legitimate invoices rejected in spam or, on the contrary, fraudulent illegitimate invoices. More broadly, the question of the legitimacy of sending or processing invoices and the related question of the control of this legitimacy are among the concerns of Medef. The AIFE (State Financial IT Agency) has confirmed that this problem is indeed being dealt with. Similarly, the harmonization of formats at European level is underway.

Ongoing changes to the regulatory framework and tools

For the time being, making the electronic invoice compulsory still requires derogations from the European directive on invoicing and VAT of 2006. In this case, France, like the other countries concerned, has requested a derogation from article 232 (the electronic invoicing is deemed to be accepted by both parties and not imposed) and article 218 (invoice formalism). A reform of this directive is well envisaged but is not considered a priority during the French Presidency. Conversely, the issue of reporting on business volumes should be harmonized more quickly. This issue of reporting seems to be wrongly neglected by companies and their service providers.

In France, B2A invoicing (businesses to administrations) is already compulsorily dematerialized and must go through the AIFE’s Chorus-Pro portal. Armelle Degenve, director of the AIFE, confirmed that it is indeed Chorus-Pro which would see its perimeter increased to integrate B2B invoicing. This portal will therefore serve both as a free site with the minimum service necessary (and sufficient for VSEs), as a concentrator for all invoicing flows from all private services and finally as a business directory (as well as a switcher up to to the right portal for every business). Chorus-Pro will also guarantee the archiving of invoices for ten years. On the other hand, for richer services (for example: taking into account the complete cycle from delivery note to payment), companies will have to use private paying portals, possibly with adaptations for certain businesses. One of these portals will be offered by the Order of Chartered Accountants and intended for VSEs/SMEs.

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