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New obligations with the SAF-T_VAT file, i.e. the SAF-T_VDEK

Sebastian GOSCHORSKI
Accounting & Payroll Partner at RSM Poland

As the Council of Ministers recently adopted a draft amendment of the VAT Act, you need to take into account the fact that as of 1 January 2020 large companies, i.e. those with the average annual headcount of 250 persons or with an annual turnover exceeding EUR 50 million and with a balance sheet total of at least EUR 43 million, will have to submit the new SAF-T_VAT file. Other taxpayers, including local government units, will be obliged to submit the new file as of 1 July 2020.

Single electronic document

Thus, the changes will affect over 1.8 million taxpayers. The newly defined SAF-T_VAT file is going to be a document in electronic format, including both the VAT return (this will replace VAT-7 and VAT-7K returns) and the VAT register. The following appendices: VAT-ZZ, VAT-ZD and VAT-ZT, will no longer be used. It should be noted that if an entity decides to submit the new SAF-T_VAT file before 1 July 2020, it will be under obligation to submit subsequent returns in the new format, as well, i.e. it will not be allowed to submit returns according to the old rules (i.e. send its VAT return and VAT register separately as a SAF-T_VAT file). With the introduction of the new SAF-T_VAT, the obligation to submit summary information on domestic turnover, i.e. the VAT-27 return, will be abandoned. The information covered by this return will be included in the new SAF-T_VAT file.

As a result, all taxpayers will submit only one electronic document (including the return and the register part). Taxpayers, who choose to file their tax returns on a quarterly basis, will have to submit the register part every month. They will no longer be obliged to send the present SAF-T_VAT file, but to submit their VAT register in the new format instead. Taxpayers who submit their tax returns on a quarterly basis will also have to submit their VAT register along with their VAT return quarterly in the new SAF-T_VAT format.

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What else are we waiting for?

It should be noted that these changes will involve different XSD schemes for the new SAF-T, specifying new reporting obligations in detail. At present, the Ministry of Finance is working on a new file that should be released over the next few months.

Another important aspect that has not been addressed in the regulations is the lack of transitional provisions that would define the rules and principles of preparing amended VAT returns for periods prior to the entry into force of the new regulations, and made after 1 January 2020. It is essential to determine if the amended return should be made with the new SAF-T_VAT file or rather on the basis of files currently in use.

New penalties (and how to avoid them)

The regulations continue to provide for a penalty in the amount of PLN 500 for any error in the tax return. The penalty shall be imposed for every error that prevents the transaction from being verified, and not for every inconsistency detected, as it was earlier planned. This is being justified by the necessity to oblige taxpayers to fill in the SAF-T_VAT file much more carefully, in particular its register part. Any mistakes made in the file prevent the analysis of transactions that have been concluded, which is a disadvantage for both taxpayers and tax authorities.

However, penalties can be avoided. Prior to imposing a penalty, the head of the tax office shall be obliged to send a request to prepare and submit an amended return, indicating the errors or inconsistencies with the facts. If the taxpayer submits an amended return that accounts for errors or inconsistencies with the facts specified in the request, the penalty shall not be imposed. Obviously, any amended returns must be filed in compliance with the deadlines provided in the request.

Summary

What should be pointed out is that the introduction of a new tool for VAT refunds is an element of preventing tax fraud, such as issuing “empty invoices” or VAT fraud, among others. Most certainly, these changes are in line with the goals set forth in the “Responsible Development Strategy by 2020 (with a further perspective until 2030)”.

The underlying assumption is that these changes are supposed to make your life easier, as there will be only one document in place instead of several. However, you must be aware of the fact that this will be much more extensive, the result being that it will be easier to make a mistake. Separate VAT registers, VAT returns and additional documents in the form of appendices are all being done away with. The taxpayer will send a single return in electronic format (including both the VAT register and the VAT return). Therefore, it is necessary to prepare very well for the upcoming changes and adjust your IT systems accordingly as soon as possible, and we will, of course, be happy to help you with this.

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