Tax law, case ITPP3/443-52/10/JK

July 5th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish newspaper Gazeta Prawna reports in the article entitled “Faktury papierowej nie można przechowywać w formie elektronicznej” on the individual interpretation of the Director of Tax Chamber in Bydgoszcz of 17 June 2010 No. ITPP3/443-52/10/JK regarding e-invoices. The Director explained that there is no possibility to store electronic invoices, which were issued and sent to the contractor in paper form. The tax regulations do not provide that taxpayers can store documents, copies of sales invoices issued in paper form, in electronic form, with the possibility of printing only when the need arose. On the contrary, these regulations require the taxpayer to retain copies of sales invoices and correction invoices in the original form that was created at the time of issue of the originals of these documents. In addition, there is no legal basis for the application of such a mixed-mode, in which on the one hand the invoice would be issued in paper form, and copies of invoices to be kept in the electronic form.

An entrepreneur seeking to reduce costs associated with invoicing can sign invoices issued in the electronic form with the qualified electronic signature, and after prior approval obtained from the recipient of such a document, send it via e-mail, deliver it on a CD or other electronic medium. Such system of delivery of documents that also ensures its authenticity and integrity, not only reduce the cost of billing on the drawer side, but also reduce costs of customers of such entrepreneur, and will be in accordance with the provisions governing the matter of invoicing.

The Polish Ministry of Finance treats only two types of invoices as legitimate way of billing if they could not be received personally. These are paper invoices that one may send to its customer by post or courier, or electronic, not so popular, because to use it the entrepreneurs must pay for the so-called qualified e-signature.

The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reports in its article entitled “Zabawa w zginanie faktur” that lots of companies in Poland send invoices by e-mail in the attached file (usually scanned), because it’s faster, more convenient and cheaper. One does not pay for stamps or envelopes. There is only one problem – the tax authorities believe that it is illegal activity. In the case of tax control, a company is threaten by financial penalties.

But Polish entrepreneurs have found a solution for such unrealistic approach. The invoice that was received by e-mail is printed and bend in half. It looks like it was taken out of the envelope. There is no provision in the tax law tha would require the storage of envelopes. The tax control is not able to prove that it wasn’t printed by the issuer of the invoice and send by post or courier. Almost everyone is happy.

The Ministry of Finance respects the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court that was described in the post entitled “Tax law, case I FSK 1444/09“, but it does not mean that the Ministry agrees with legal arguments presented by the SAC. The Republic of Poland is a civil law country and there are no binding precedents. It means the every entrepreneur would have to go the same way as the one whose case ended before the SAC.

See also “Tax law, case III SA/Wa 396/10“.