E-invoicing: Italy distributes gifts

Paper invoices are passé – at least in Italy, provided they are going to the public administration. Since over the past few weeks, all domestic suppliers and service providers must send their invoices to the public sector electronically. Thus, after France and Austria, Italy is further country that is following the path of the obligatory electronic invoice.

The fourth largest economy in Europe is thereby implementing EU Directive 2010/45/EU. And it is prematurely exceeding the finish line, because EU Directive 2014/55/​​EU actually specifies that the administration of member states have until 2018 to switch to e-invoicing. Italy expects in return a significant financial and personal relief for administration.


Relief for the private sector

However, all of this does not apply to business transactions between companies or to business transactions amongst companies with consumers. Here the EU does not permit any mandatory state requirements. Nevertheless, in order to push ahead the use of electronic billing, the state is offering incentives.

Italy lures whoever will change to digital invoicing in the future by, among other things, facilitating accounting rules – with exemption from the “Spesometro” notification obligation, for example. It usually requires electronic reporting of all VAT-relevant transactions. Even businesses with customers who live in tax “risk countries” no longer need to be reported. Last but not least, Italy promises a quicker VAT refund.


Creative – but effective?

From a German perspective that seems a little odd. In this country it is in principle rather a matter of voluntary commitments. Yet maybe one can indeed learn from Italy. That is, if the country is successful with these measures. Speaking of learning from the example, last year, Portugal held a lottery for taxpayers, and transformed each submitted invoice with a tax number into a lottery ticket for the weekly prize draw. The prize: a luxury car.