I wrote a letter to Santa last December and he seems to have taken it seriously at least with the most demanding present:
"The second wish is a standard - more precisely a common and global standard that will fulfill both the needs of SMEs (being easy to use) and their frequently very large and sometimes bully trading partners who have a need for lots and lots of data elements...."
CII-V2 delivered by UNCEFACT TGB1 was discussed at the EC Expert Group meeting yesterday and we all agreed that this looks very promising indeed. Much work and resourcing is naturally remaining to refine and create the user guides - but the spirit could hardly be better.
"The first wish is a book - more precisely a handbook. We namely wrote a letter to the EU Commission in July and asked for Equal Treatment of paper and e-invoicing (from VAT-angle) and a bit to our surprise but certainly to our joy we did get it. Now it is naturally up to all the member states to join in with transposition. We do feel that you can help the local VAT authoritative to do it and us Experts with wise guidance so that our Code of Practice in the coming EEI-recommendation (kind of a handbook) will describe how enterprises real easily can move to e-invoicing and not loose sleep over fear of not getting VAT refunds. ..."
In light of the above it is even more important to get the equal treatment with paper invoices in place in accordance with the VAT directive proposal. It would be rather sad to see that a global x-border network (step1) standard is created - but adoption hindered by regulation - in what should be a common market.
Santa alone cannot do this. Strong and analytical argumentation from enterprises and their organizations is needed in those countries where supplemental tools (to business controls) are still mandatory. For tax authorities it should be clear that every move towards structured e-invoicing and especially in managed network is an improvement from present practises. Many tool-vendors have already seen the light - e-invoicing will grow fast with equal treatment - laying the ground for selling value-creating supplemental tools. By making it simple it will happen - and vice versa.
"The third wish is good will - more precisely to service providers - so that there will be lots of them (also banks - despite them having hard times now) - and that they will form networks and provide the interoperability with help of reformatting and verification services..."
Santa will have to work hard with our third wish - especially in the banking sector in some member states:
The fourth wish is bravery - more precisely to invoice receivers - so that more of them will join the rapidly growing elite who have declared e-invoicing mandatory (in markets where service providers have ramped up their tools and networks) and charge transparently for more expensive paper or invoices otherwise in unstructured form.
We have seen good evidence that this bravery is a must - and that deadlines and transparent pricing spread the message widely. For example here in Finland many large invoice receivers (including the state sector) have set deadlines for paper or e-mail invoices for 2009 and this has helped all invoice receivers - for example a big factor like the City of Helsinki has exceeded 50% penetration - without having set a deadline itself - yet.