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Can you be "partially" compliant?

Almost daily Tungsten Network is approached by service providers seeking to collaborate with us to provide e-invoicing services in France. Perhaps it was the abrupt exit of other compliant e-invoicing providers in the region that has caused these new providers to spring up. There is certainly a vacuum to fill to assist those suppliers in France that are threatened with being left high and dry, and unable to get their invoices to their important buyers.

Today, there is a host of providers claiming to offer e-invoicing services and interested in interoperating with Tungsten Network. These companies are always amicable at the outset, but can quickly become belligerent when we ask them to explain the specifics of how they ensure that the service they provide meets the respective local legislative requirements, i.e. are they compliant?

Listen to Tungsten Network's SVP Country Compliance, Ruud van Hilten and PwC's Ellen Cortvriend discuss the importance of tax compliance inside and across borders

Simple things can be important. Simple things like checking that the invoice adds up and valid rates of tax are applied. Yet when such simple things appear to be revelations to many service providers, there can be little expectation that they are also on top of the specific legal requirements defining which data points are necessary to constitute a legal e-invoice that is useable for VAT reclaim.

That there are many different business technologies involved in exchanges between Suppliers and Buyers is to be celebrated and enjoyed. But when it comes to claiming compliance, diligent work has to be done to understand the legalities involved and ensure that the requirements are met unambiguously.

These legalities are not limited just to the accurate content on an invoice, but relate to appropriate digital signing and verification, commercial laws governing agency and subcontract (authorising the service provider to act on behalf of the Supplier), document retention (Archiving) and more. A compliant service provider takes care of all of these matters, enabling the Suppliers and Buyers to rely upon this integrity and get on with their own core business.

Tungsten remains committed to these principles and, while happy to interoperate with other service providers to the benefit of the wider business community (we have over 40 active today), the other service provider has to be serious about compliance. If they are not, then they are just VANs (value added networks) moving un-validated packages between business partners. Rather than relieving your operational friction, they actually add to it.

Can you be partially compliant? No! There are no degrees of compliance. It is binary: you are either compliant or you are not.

Ignorantia juris non excusat.

About the author

Gary Benson

Having initially created and managed the core business execution processes and then built our Partner ecosystem, more recently, I recruited and now manage our team of Strategic Account Directors covering our clients headquartered in the UK area. This team is focused on elevating Tungsten’s role from being a simple ‘supplier’ to increasingly being viewed as an expert and trusted partner in helping businesses reach world-class performance through our total AP and total AR services. In parallel we started the European e-Invoice Service Providers Association (EeSPA), which is now an independently managed membership of 70+ Service Providers, providing industry representation on the EU Commission e-invoice development forums. I am a member of the EeSPA executive board and a country delegate to the EU Commission’s Multi-stakeholder Forum for e-Invoicing (EMSFEI). Having been part of the growth of the industry over the last 19 years, I am passionate about 'real' e-invoicing (happy to debate what this is with anyone!) and can be a little bit intense, so apologies in advance. When I'm not at work or with my family, I play (bad) golf or watch (great) football or rugby, having played both in the distant past.'

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