According to the latest report on Belgian e-invoicing law, the Belgian Ministry of Finance made new advancements to modernize the tax system for the taxpayers, decrease tax fraud, and reduce the administrative burdens on government and taxable persons. The savings are a result of various factors, such as quicker payment processing from suppliers and service providers, reduced expenses on printing and postage, more efficient and faster handling of invoicing data, lower storage costs, and in the long run, less spending on system development and training. Therefore, the European Commission issued a proposal in December 2022 to amend the common system of Value Added Tax (VAT) to bring it into a digitalized age.
Henceforth, the government brought new regulations on the system and updated the basic rules, requirements and regulations. Therefore,
- The newly updated system will be put in force on January 1 2026. Although, as of January 2025 voluntary taxpayers can comply with the system, January 1st 2028 is the final date for taxpayers to fully adopt the electronic system.
- The government has recently decided to introduce an additional invoicing obligation for Value Added Tax (VAT) in certain transactions between taxable persons (B2B or business-to-business). This new obligation requires structured electronic invoices to be issued and received for these transactions.
- The requirement to create structured electronic invoices will not be applicable for the invoicing of public authorities that are not considered taxpayers (known as “B2G” or “business-to-government” transactions). Additionally, the obligation to issue structured electronic invoices will not apply to the sale of goods or services to individuals for their personal use (known as “B2C” or “business-to-consumer” transactions).
- The taxpayers have been using the HERMES platform to issue and send any structured electronic invoices in Belgium. Therefore, the taxpayers who do not have the necessary computerized resources themselves will be able to rely on already existing adequate technical solutions until 2026.
- However, the transition has already started thanks to the advantages of using structured electronic invoices in a B2G context. That is to say, several affordable solutions are currently available on the market that allow both the sending and receipt of structured electronic invoices via Peppol.
- The current regulations on invoicing and electronic invoicing are based on two principles. Firstly, an electronic invoice can be issued and received in any electronic format, which includes a PDF file sent by email. Secondly, issuing an electronic invoice is not obligatory but is allowed with the customer’s agreement.
- A structured electronic invoice is an e-invoice that allows for automatic and electronic processing without any manual actions required. It’s important to note that this type of e-invoice does not refer to sending a PDF via email but to automate the proceedings between the sender and the recipient.
- The structured electronic invoice must be issued to taxable persons who must communicate their VAT identification number. Cross-border delivery from Belgium is exempted.
- Self-billing is allowed.
- HERMES acts as a link between companies that can generate structured electronic invoices and the companies are not yet equipped with such action, or as a failsafe for recipients who are not yet known to the Peppol network. However, the Belgian government intends to comply with the other member states of the EU zone and switch from HERMES to Peppol since the advantage is that this network is already used for B2G transactions in Belgium and many other Member States. The Peppol initiative provides, among other things, for the agreements regarding the formats and semantics of electronic invoices. The Peppol gateway makes it easier to exchange invoices correctly.