It's not surprising that electronic invoicing is the method of choice for so many businesses. They're so much safer, as the invoices can go directly to the person handling them in your business. They can't get lost, misplaced, damaged, they'll be received on time and they can instantly be filed electronically. Vat vendors, however, must keep in mind that for SARS to accept these invoices, they MUST meet certain criteria.
The Vat gurus behind the Practical Vat Loose Leaf
detail six criteria electronic invoices MUST meet.
SARS only accepts electronic invoices if they meet the following six criteria
1. The following eight items must appear on the invoices (as is the case for all invoices):
1. The words 'Tax Invoice'; 'Credit Note' or 'Debit Note', depending on the document required.
2. The name, address and Vat number of the supplier (the Vat number will be a ten digit number, starting with '4'). SARS sends you your Vat number when you register for Vat. Watch out for invoices where Vat has been charged and the supplier has no Vat number or the words 'vat number pending' appears on the tax invoice! In such cases, do NOT pay the Vat to the supplier as you will have an invalid document on which you can't claim the input tax!
3. The name, address and Vat number of the purchaser. If you sell to someone that isn't a vendor, leave it open.
4. A serial number of the invoice.
5. The date the product/service was issued.
6. A description and the mass or quantity of the goods bought.
7. The amount paid for the goods bought.
8. The price of the goods, the amount of Vat and the total, or one amount including the Vat, but then a statement that Vat is included in the price and the rate at which it was charged (i.e. either 0% if zero rated, or 14% if standard-rated must appear on the tax invoice).
2. Recipients must confirm in writing that they're willing to receive electronic tax invoices. You must keep this written confirmation on record for five years. Your electronic tax invoices must be issued encrypted with 128-bit encryption technology, this basically means in a tamper proof format which will make it impossible to be tampered with or altered it in any way.
3. Both seller and buyer must keep the documents in a readable and encrypted form for five years from the date of submission of the Vat return. Readability is only a problem when suppliers use certain software programs to create invoices that require you to have an application installed on your PC to view the invoice.
4. If you use a service provider, like your Internet, software application and telecommunication providers, that person must also keep the documents for five years.
5. The transmitted electronic document counts as an original tax invoice. If you print out hard copies of this, they must state 'Computer-generated copy tax invoice'. All further copies must also state this.
6. No other tax invoice may be issued for the supply, unless it's marked as a copy of the original document.
When your new tax period starts, open a file on your computer for that period. As you receive invoices during the month via email, save the invoice that's attached directly in this file in the encrypted 'PDF' format. Do the same for invoices that you have to go into a supplier's website to retrieve an invoice or need a copy. All the invoices you received electronically during that tax period will be in one place which is easy accessible, in the right format and can be easily backed up and stored for 5 years.
Now you know exactly how to keep SARS happy!