Update: VAT invoicing

Philippe Vanclooster 8 February 2013


The Act implementing the Invoicing Directive 2010/45/EU has been published in the Belgian Official Gazette.

The invoicing Directive 2010/45/EU is based on the study PwC has carried out for the European Commission in 2008, aimed at harmonising and simplifying the Community rules on the electronic sending, receipt and storage of invoices.

The new rules will come into force on 1st January 2013. As from then, paper invoices and electronic invoices are treated equally. In Belgium businesses were already free to choose the way to ensure authenticity of origin and integrity of content of the invoice as from 1st January 2010 and will continue to be so.

The Belgian legislation now also specifically refers to the use of “business controls” to guarantee the authenticity, integrity and legibility of the invoice. Clearly, besides the use of business controls, businesses can also still opt for using e-invoicing technology to provide the necessary guarantees.

With this reinforced message, it is highly recommended for businesses to explore to which extent they have a business case for e-invoicing and how they can achieve it most efficiently.

Next to that, a decision with respect to the transitional measures that will be in place due to the changes to the Belgian VAT Code with respect to the date upon which VAT becomes due has been published.

As from 1st January 2013 and based on the implementation of the Invoicing Directive 2010/45/EU in Belgium, the issuance of an invoice prior to the taxable event will no longer be considered as a tax point for Belgian VAT purposes. This also has the consequence that the recipient will not have the right to deduct input VAT upon receipt of the invoice, but only when the taxable event takes place (generally speaking, when the supply is complete or upon payment of the invoice prior to the completion of the supply).

Following the practical concerns that have been voiced over the last weeks, the VAT Authorities have now decided that a transitional period will be provided for, leaving taxable persons some additional time to implement these new rules, namely:

  • From 1st January 2013, a transitional period of 12 months is provided where both the suppliers (as regards the date upon which VAT becomes due) and their customers (as regards the VAT deduction) have the choice to still apply the “old” rules or to already apply the new rules. In case an advance invoice on which VAT is reported is issued, the ‘old’ rules will automatically apply. To apply the ‘new’ rules the advance payment should be requested based on another document (e.g. “invitation to pay”, not mentioning the VAT separately).
  • From 1st January 2014, the new rules will become effective for all taxable persons and all transactions. A decision will be published by the Belgian VAT Authorities in the course of 2013 providing for further guidance as to the practical interpretation of the new rules.

Note that this transitional regime is not applicable to B2B supplies of services for which VAT is due by the recipient of the service and to intra-Community supplies of goods, for which the new rules will already become applicable as from 1st January 2013.