I have often been asked lately how the e-invoice penetration in a country can be raised fast. This urge to speed up migration is increasingly driven by the need to cut costs and improve productivity – but also more by the need to get tax revenues lost in the grey economy.
It has been realized that mandatory digital signatures was a mistake and now when the VAT-directive has outlawed mandatory-ship it should be easy for any SME to use one of many generic portal services to send e-invoices – just like payments (subject to operators supporting interoperability – most do).
The answer is very simple. Invoice receivers – especially the rest of state and municipal sectors - should set deadlines for paper and e-mailed PDFs. If the service supply is adequate - still during 2012 (granting billerspecific extensions when invoicing systems need tuning) – if the service supply is only building up and operator-roaming is scant then during the first half next year.
Mandatoryship is usually resented – but they are dearly needed now as the benefits are so massive for society at large – be it more competitive enterprises, better jobs, just tax collection, rule of law, CO2 reduction or lower tax pressure. The lack of symmetry needs this action as the SMEs sending invoices do not see much value in saving work worth 1pct of a small turnover and have no time to realize the huge benefits around the corner.