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When does a company receive a VAT number?

Piotr NOWATKOWSKI
International Department Supervisor at RSM Poland

The completeness of company registration procedure is of material importance for entrepreneurs wishing to start up their business in Poland.

How was it up to now?

After informing clients that their companies were entered into the National Court Register, I have often heard: “that’s good, but can I start operating now?” By “operating” clients usually meant invoicing, because that is, basically, what business activity is about. In response, I could only describe a complex course of events:  “after issuing a decision on entry into the National Court Register (Polish KRS), the Court sends an application for a tax identification number (Polish NIP) to a relevant tax office, and then, the tax office, unless it finds any omissions in the application, assigns the company a NIP; if the tax office finds omissions in the application, the applicant is invited to rectify such omissions.” The client, who had already become irritated by my this complicated procedure, would continue, asking  me: “but, since the company has been entered into the KRS, the Court has already managed to send the mentioned application for NIP to the tax office, hasn’t it?”.  When receiving such a question, I could only assure that I would check if the documents had, indeed, been submitted to the tax office. It was so many times that the decision on entry into the KRS, in fact, had been issued, but the application was still awaiting its registration in the postal register, or, in other words, it was waiting for the right day on which correspondence to tax offices is delivered – or for another lucky coincidence. The result? It was often 5-6 weeks after the entry into the KRS that the decision on NIP assignation was issued.

How it should be

From 1 December 2014, new regulations that are supposed to simplify the registration process of the entity into the tax office and the Statistical Office, came into force. Indeed, from then on, once the company is entered into the register of entrepreneurs of the National Court Register,  it is also entered into the register of taxpayers (receives a NIP) and, at the same time, granted the National Business Registry Number (Polish REGON). Entrepreneurs can finally start operating. Automation of the system should also put an end to the practice of public offices exchanging the documents by mail.  After the entity is registered, the entrepreneur is obliged to provide the so called supplementary data (such as bank account number or place of keeping the books etc.) by submitting the NIP-8 form to the relevant tax office. The filing date for supplementing the data is now 21 days since the company has been entered into the KRS, unless the entity requires registration as a payer of social insurance contributions – in such situation, the mentioned period of 21 days is shortened to only 7 days. It is crucial to know that the NIP-8 form includes also information for the statistical office as well  as for the Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), which should eliminate the need for sending separate forms to these offices. Now, not the entrepreneur, but the tax offices should provide relevant institutions with all the necessary data.

And how will it be?  

The amendments introduced to the Act on the National Court Register should – in theory – greatly improve the registration process. But, as always, the devil’s in the detail. The effectiveness of the changes, to a large extent, depends on the speed and efficiency of the Court in providing tax offices with all the information.  I assume that the procedure will now take place in an electronic form and that the tax office, similarly to the statistical office when it grants a REGON, will be automatically informed on the entry into the KRS. But will the tax office also automatically assign NIP to a company or maybe take additional verification steps before it enters the entity into the register of taxpayers? If yes, will these steps be synchronized with similar actions undertaken by the statistical office to avoid – well-known to entrepreneurs – situation, in which one office has to wait for the other? Unfortunately, these questions can be answered only after a couple of months, when we are able to assess how the new simplified registration system works in practice.

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