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Legal status of electronic invoices

Legal status of electronic invoices

If invoices are sent / received by e-mail or other electronic means do they have the same status hard copies?
Are there any VAT implications ?

Garry Bogue


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20th Jan 2000 07:41

Update on Electronic Archiving
This is an update on my previous e-mail. Thanks for all those who responded.
I have been in contact with the Inalnd Revenue's Compliance Division in Glasgow. They have no objections to companies using electronic methods of archiving provided the image cannot be altered. There is no requirement for original documentation to be kept, however you must ensure that all scanned documentation is legible and provides a proper audit trail.

The Customs & Excise said that their view is similar. No forms to be completed, but a call to the C&E helpline describing what you want to do allows C&E to make a note in your file (you'll need your VAT number).

This was all done over the phone, so it may be worthwhile sending a letter to your PAYE, Corporation Tax and C&E offices just to confirm your intentions.

I have copies of IR tax bulletins etc which I can fax to you if required. Send me an e-mail or call me on 01224 401598

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12th Jan 2000 13:05

Legal Admissibility - Codes of Good Practice
This raises a lot of issues, we have been working in association with BSI for several years now and they have a very useful pair of documents relevant to this topic.
BSI DISC PD 0008:1999 - Legal Admissibility and Evidential Weight of Information Stored Electronically, and
BSI DISC PD 5000:1999 - A Code of Good Practice in 5 Parts - Electronic Documents and e-commerce Transactions as Legally Admissible Evidence
Details of both can be found at
We have been doing a lot of compliance work on the storage code over the last 3 years and many organisations are now relying on electronic records rather than paper originals. This includes Invoices, where HM Customs and Excise have given their blessing. But this is currently on a case by case basis.
As regards submission of Invoices (etc) electronically this is somewhat simpler in a business-to-business environment than business-to-consumer. In all cases what will be required is proof that the record is what it purports to be, and that the communications are between the intended parties. And that is why the process/audit model in the 2 DISC publications is so effective, and independent of differences between jurisdictions.
For more info on our compliance services against these codes, do e-mail me at mailto:[email protected]
In addition, we are building some interesting "policy driven" archiving software that is based on supporting compliance to these Codes of Practice, for information on this e-mail me at mailto:[email protected]

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11th Jan 2000 15:51

Electronic Archiving
I don't know the answer to Garry Bogue's question but in a similar vein, there is an increased use of electronic archiving by scanning the original documents onto CD Rom.
Where the aim is to cut storage costs rather than have quick retrieval, this can be achieved if you are able to destroy the originals after scanning. If you can't there may be little point in going through the process.

Does anyone know what the Inland Revenue's or C&E's viewpoint is on electronic versions rather than originals especially where there is a requiremnet to keep documentation for a minimum of 6 years?

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11th Jan 2000 16:52

Electronic Archiving and Invoicing
With regard to Alan's question over electronic archiving my understanding is that prior approval is needed from Customs and Excise for any method of archiving other than in paper form, including microfische and electronic medium.

With regard to Electronic invoicing I understand that the date of issue and tax point is when the invoice is published and not the date of receipt. Therefore once the invoice is made available on the electronic file for viewing and printing it has been published. It does not therefore need to be sent or transmitted.

However this raises the question of copy invoices. In normal circumstances only one copy of an invoice is recognised by Customs as being the original and valid proof for input tax recovery. I have not seen anything yet which suggests that this approach has been relaxed. I would be interested in any thoughts.

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By cbales
07th Jan 2000 23:05

Yes, BUT ...............
They do have the same status as invoices sent in hard copy by other means PROVIDED that the intended recipients are capable of receiving and printing them at their end. The tax point date is the date of transmission. The sender will need a hard copy for their records.

To be a valid VAT invoice -
a)It must be issued and the customer must physically receive it.
b)It must contain all the information normally required to be included in a VAT invoice.

Do bear in mind that a minimum of one months notice is required by Customs & Excise before output invoices are despatched in this way and conditions may have to be complied with.

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By lualeni
20th Nov 2014 12:10

Yes, but....

Can the purchaser insist on  a hard copy submission?

Not being total Luddite but I don't wish to be invoiced electronically. I have serious doubts as to fraud and doctoring. Obviously I don't have to do business with anyone who won't send a proper paper invoice but that is not as easy as it appears.

I have resisted to date (by threatening to send the payment by scanned cheque or simply delay payment til they comply) but one or two "trendies" are now digging in. Why should I use my printer if they won't buy a postage stamp OR just enclose the invoice with the goods? What are my rights in this?


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