Since 2011, the Ministry of Finance has issued Circular No. 32/2011/TT-BTC guiding the creation, issuance and use of e-invoices for the sale of goods and provision of services.

The trend of using e-invoices to replace paper invoices is becoming more and more popular in the world. To be in line with international practices and create favorable conditions for organizations and individuals in the process of production and business, integration with the region and the world, the Government has issued Decree No. 51/2010/ ND-CP dated May 14, 2010 stipulating invoices for selling goods and providing services, including e-invoices, and the Ministry of Finance has also issued the above Circular for specific guidance.

In order to promote the provision of information and propaganda to help people in general and taxpayers in particular understand about this form of invoice, VNC informs some key points about this regulation as follows:

Concept of e-invoice: An electronic invoice is a collection of electronic data messages about the sale of goods and provision of services, which are created, made, sent, received, stored and managed by means of electronic media. E-invoices are created, made and processed on the computer system of the organization that has been granted a tax code when selling goods and services and stored on the computers of the parties in accordance with the law on electronic transactions.

Benefits of using e-invoices: Using e-invoices brings many benefits to users: reducing costs of printing, sending, preserving and storing; convenient for accounting, data reconciliation, business administration; shorten the payment time because the making, sending/receiving of invoices is done through electronic means; contribute to modernizing corporate governance.

Principles of using e-invoices: Organizations and individuals that choose to use e-invoices when selling goods or providing services must notify their customers of the e-invoice format, how to transmit and receive e-invoice. Sellers, buyers, intermediary organizations providing e-invoice solutions and relevant units must agree on technical requirements and conditions to ensure integrity and confidentiality related to that e-invoice.

Requirements to be fulfilled when using e-invoices:

+ Organizations and individuals that want to use e-invoices must have information technology infrastructure to store and use e-documents and must have a digital signature.

+ Organizations and individuals determine the use of e-invoice software by themselves (build or use e-invoice software provided by intermediary organizations).

+ Organizations and individuals must inform customers about the invoice format and how to transmit and receive e-invoices (directly or through an intermediary organization).

+ Organizations and individuals must issue decisions on application of e-invoices and send notices of e-invoice issuance to tax authorities before making e-invoices.

+ Organizations and individuals can issue invoices on their own software system or on the system of an intermediary organization, electronically sign it and transfer it to the buyer.

To use e-invoices, organizations and individuals shall consider their actual conditions in terms of information technology infrastructure, their level of information technology use; the storage and use of e-documents; digital signatures; the customer’s ability to accept and use e-invoices… to deploy and apply the form of e-invoices.

From 2018: Who must use e-invoices?

To achieve the goal that by 2020, about 90% of businesses will use e-invoices or 90% of goods circulated on the market by e-invoices, the Tax Department proposed that from the beginning of 2018, businesses with a charter capital of 15 billion VND or more must use e-invoices since they have their tax identification numbers and periodically do so.

Accordingly, from January 1, 2018, the following entities shall use e-invoices/e-invoices with the tax authority’s code for the sale of goods and provision of services: Enterprises and non-business units shall use e-invoices since the tax code is obtained and periodically transfer invoice data to the tax agency (enterprises established under the provisions of law in industrial parks, economic zones, export processing zones, high-tech zones; enterprises, banks with a charter capital of 15 billion VND or more…); businesses and organizations shall use e-invoices with authentication codes of tax authorities (some newly established businesses; businesses and organizations that are buying invoices from tax authorities, such as businesses violating the management and use of invoices; businesses that are at risk according to the notices of tax authorities and other organizations and businesses that are eligible to purchase invoices from tax authorities before January 1, 2018 must use e-invoices with the tax authority’s code according to the Tax authority’s notice).

From January 1, 2019, it will be applied to the remaining 30% of organizations and businesses. From January 1, 2020, it will be applied to 80% of businesses and organizations that use e-invoices and e-invoices with codes of tax authorities. At the same time, starting to deploy e-invoices for business households with annual revenue of 3 billion VND or more.

This is the roadmap proposed by the General Department of Taxation, the Ministry of Finance in the proposal to develop a decree to replace Decree No. 51/2010/ND-CP, Decree No. 04/2014/ND-CP of the Government regulating invoices for selling goods and providing services posted on the website of the Ministry of Finance.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the number of enterprises using e-invoices has increased significantly in recent years (30 enterprises in 2011, increased to 331 in 2015 and 656 in 2016). The number of e-invoices used has also increased dramatically over the years (from 9,014 in 2011 to more than 277 million in 2016). The use of e-invoices brings many benefits to businesses such as saving time and costs, improving production and business efficiency, service quality and increasing competitiveness.

Also according to the Ministry of Finance, currently, the information technology infrastructure (using the Internet) is already capable of meeting the use of e-invoices.

Specifically, according to data from the Department of Telecommunications (Ministry of Information and Communications), by January 2017, the country had more than 43.9 million 3G subscribers (mobile broadband Internet subscribers – Data Card 3G) and a total of 3G subscribers. the number of fixed broadband Internet subscribers is more than 9.3 million. 3G waves have covered 63 provinces and cities, and 4G services are also being expanded by carriers.

The tax sector itself has also prepared for infrastructure by ensuring the connection from the General Department (central level) to 63 Tax Departments. Electronic tax declaration and payment service has also been implemented with 576,056 enterprises (accounting for 99% of operating enterprises).

E-invoice is a collection of electronic data messages about the sale of goods and provision of services, which are created, made, sent, received, stored and managed by electronic means. Especially, e-invoices must be created, made and processed on the computer system of organizations that have been granted tax codes when selling goods and services and stored on the computers of the parties in accordance with the law on electronic transactions. An e-invoice with a tax authority’s authentication code is a type of invoice that is granted an authentication code and authentication number through the tax authority’s authentication system.

With tens of billions of dong saved in just one year, it shows that e-invoices are creating a big push in tax administration reform, improving the business environment and making the country’s financial system healthy.

From using e-invoices as an inevitable trend…

To make e-invoices, businesses only need a computer and an internet connection, the cost of making e-invoices is also much cheaper, down from 50-70% compared to paper invoices and in the current e-commerce trend; When people are gradually familiar with electronic payment technology, the use of e-invoices is an inevitable trend…

To carry out the implementation of e-invoices, the Government and the Ministry of Finance issued Decree 51/2010/ND-CP dated May 14, 2010 on invoices for selling goods and providing services, Circular 32 /2011/TT-BTC dated March 14, 2011 guiding the creation, issuance and use of e-invoices for the sale of goods and provision of services; and assigned the General Department of Taxation to select a number of large enterprises to pilot e-invoices.

According to the General Department of Taxation, up to now, the pilot enterprises have been successfully deployed and approved by customers. Among these can be mentioned is Electricity of Vietnam (EVN). If in 2012, this Corporation only deployed e-invoices at Saigon Electricity Company for over 90,000 customers, now EVN has deployed it to all customers across the country.

Similarly, Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) has also successfully implemented e-invoices for all telecommunications and information technology services for customers and has officially implemented the application of e-invoices for all VNPT provinces, cities and member units in the sale of goods and provision of services nationwide. Or Vietnam Airlines Corporation (VNA) has expanded the use of e-tickets throughout the system in passenger transport and a number of additional services associated with air transport (EMD), service airlines combined with ground services (VNA holidays). The Saigon and Hanoi Railway Transport Company also started using e-invoices for passenger transport services from September 2015 and initially the system has operated stably, bringing convenience for customers to buying tickets and for the management of the Corporation.

In addition to the above enterprises, many other enterprises are also implementing the application of e-invoices such as: Vietnam Register, Credit Information Center of the State Bank, The Gioi Di Dong Company, FPT Retail Joint Stock Company, Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank, Ba Na Cable Car Company…

Thus, it can be seen that, although e-invoices are still quite new in Vietnam, they have been and are being supported by many businesses because they not only bring practical benefits to businesses, but also help the tax industry push reform, but also an inevitable trend in the current integration context with the transparency and utility of this service.

According to preliminary estimates of the Department of Large Enterprises (General Department of Taxation), enterprises using paper invoices on average have to spend over 1,000 VND/invoice and with the number of invoices nationwide about 2.5 billion invoices/year, the cost is at least up to 2,500 billion VND/year. If this figure is subtracted from the savings (50-70%) compared to paper invoices, the amount of money that businesses can save by using e-invoices is over 1,000 billion VND/year.

Not only that, the conversion of this form of e-invoice also helps businesses be more proactive in creating and issuing invoices, minimizing errors in tax declaration and saving time. This will also help the Tax sector “manage” the issue of taxpayers’ invoices; actively support the reconciliation and verification of invoices, thereby detecting and promptly handling acts of using illegal invoices.

At the same time, helping tax authorities build a centralized and unified invoice database to serve the tax administration of the State, including tax inspection, examination and refund; on that basis, it will reduce risks for tax authorities and businesses using invoices, contributing to creating an equal and transparent business environment among economic sectors. From a budget perspective, the use of e-invoices will also increase revenue by billions of dong, as businesses do not have to spend unnecessary expenses and their revenue declaration is more transparent.

… to completing legal documents related to the use of e-invoices

It can be said that the trend of e-invoices is inevitable and the fact that the use of e-invoices brings many practical benefits to both businesses, customers, tax authorities and society. However, in fact, many businesses still find ways to “evade” the law, continue to implement paper invoices and the essence of this situation is “hiding” revenue to “evade taxes”.

Many people think that the point worth noting for improvement now is to uphold the publicity, transparency and social responsibility of the whole community. Because, in fact, many consumers don’t care about getting invoices when they go to buy goods, and then, businesses are “not fools” to enter paper invoice information into the electronic system to be taxed. It is necessary to communicate to consumers that receiving invoices when buying goods has benefits associated with consumers, not only collecting taxes for the State but also protecting themselves.

In addition to raising the awareness of consumers and improving the honesty in business of enterprises, relevant agencies such as the Police, Market Management, and Customs also need to unify the legality of e-invoices so that the management and use of invoices of buyers and sellers are easier. The tax sector should also pay attention to the development of e-invoices, in which the main task in the coming time is to improve the professional qualifications of tax officials, continue to invest in technical equipment to ensure a smooth connection between tax authorities and taxpayers; strengthen propaganda, support and provide the most favorable conditions for businesses to actively deploy e-invoices. At the same time, the tax sector also needs to work closely with software solution providers to complete the application; tax authorities also need to add detailed regulations for the implementation of e-invoices, such as procedures for participating in data transmission and input; issue, cancel invoices…

In particular, the tax sector needs to complete legal documents related to the use of e-invoices. Actual implementation shows that many regulations related to the use of e-invoices need to be urgently completed. For example, for policy problems that have been removed by the General Department of Taxation for businesses to pilot e-invoices, such as: instructions on linking e-invoices, regulations on transferring data between the sales software and accounting software periodically instead of direct connection, regulations on cases where electronic signatures of buyers are required and are not required, regulations on e-invoices formal, etc., Now it is necessary to have clear instructions in legal documents to increase the legality for implementation.

Along with that, it is necessary to supplement regulations in Decree-level documents to improve the preeminence and applicability of e-invoices according to the Government’s Resolution 36a/NQ-CP; amending and supplementing Circular 32/2011/TT-BTC to be in line with current legal documents and in line with the reality of enterprises’ implementation of e-invoices, ensuring favorable conditions for businesses to apply e-invoices and proceed to apply it to most businesses…

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