The SAF-T format was introduced in various countries around the world in the last years. Portugal was the first country to do so and many other countries have introduced the Standard Audit File for Tax ever since. This article shall give an overview on SAF-T and show which European countries are actually using it.
What is the Standard Audit File-Tax (SAF-T)?
SAF-T, the Standard Audit File for Tax, is a computer-readable checking file, or rather format, that ensures an efficient transfer of accounting data from the accounting system of a business to the tax authorities that need to review this data.
It’s an electronic checking format that was created by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in May 2005. The aim was to create a standardized file format for the exchange of tax-related data around the world to make the communication easier and decrease the work effort.
What do I need to know about it?
The basic principles for SAF-T can be found in the two OECD guidelines:
1. Guidance for the Standard Audit File-Tax: general principles that concern the audit file itself.
2. Guidance on Tax Compliance for Business and Accounting Software: standards that should already be taken into account in the development of accounting systems to ensure a proper processing.
Both the data format XML and the data content are specified by the XSD schema file. There are multiple localized versions available which are compatible with the general v1.0 standard. The SAF-T is formally standardized in terms of format and meaning, however, there can be some little elements that differ from country to country.
Now let’s take a look on where SAF-T is actually used and what will be changed or added in the near future.
Where is SAF-T used and which changes are soon to come?
SAF-T was introduced in Austria in 2009 and is currently only required on demand. This means that the Austrian tax authorities will let you know when they need this file, that will be mainly before a VAT audit is due.
|Name of Austrian SAF-T:||SAF-T AT|
|Authorities:||Austrian Ministry of Finance|
(Bundesministerium für Finanzen)
In France, the Standard Audit File for Tax, FEC, is used as well. It was introduced in 2014 and is also only required on demand, just like in Austria. However, on demand doesn’t mean that you won’t need to provide it regularly.
|Name of French SAF-T:||FEC (Fichier des Écritures Comptable)|
|Authorities:||French Ministry of the Economy and Finance |
(Ministère de l’Économie es des Finances)
Lithuania introduced SAF-T in 2016 and there have been changes in terms of the maximum revenue every year. That means that the annual revenue limit that obliges businesses to provide the SAF-T has constantly been decreased:
2017: annual revenue of more than €8,000,000
2018: annual revenue of more than €750,000
2019: annual revenue of more than €45,000
|Name of Lithuanian SAF-T:||SAF-T|
|Authorities:||State Tax Inspectorate|
(Valstybinė mokesčių inspekcija)
By the beginning of 2020, ALL businesses will be affected and the annual revenue won’t matter anymore.
Luxembourg introduced FAIA in 2011. The reporting threshold within one year is a revenue of €112,000. Big surprise: it’s also only required on demand and again this is likely to be prior to a VAT audit. It is only required on demand from the tax authorities, generally prior to a full audit.
|Name of Luxembourgian SAF-T:||FAIA|
|Authorities:||Luxembourg Tax Administration |
(Administration de l’enregistrement es des domaines)
Norway (Changes in 2020!)
SAF-T Financial will be introduced and become compulsory in Norway from January 2020, until then the use of this scheme is on a voluntary basis. This makes Norway the latest country to make the Standard Audit File for Tax mandatory.
|Name of Norwegian SAF-T:||SAF-T Financial|
|Authorities:||Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten)|
Poland (Changes in 2020)
Poland introduced the JPK VAT in 2016 and it became mandatory in 2018.
An update on the Polish SAF-T, that was announced for 1 July 2019, was delayed to 2020. The implementation will basically look like this and require businesses with the following turnover to provide the SAF-T:
January 2020: annual revenue of more than €50,000,000.00
July 2021: everybody, independent from the annual revenue
|Name of Polish SAF-T:||JPK VAT|
|Authorities:||Polish Ministry of Finance |
Portugal was the first country with the SAF-T, that was in 2008. Since 2018, the monthly SAF-T submission not enough anymore and it became obligatory to provide an addition SAF-T for the annual accounting.
|Name of Potuguese SAF-T:||SAF-T (PT)|
|Authorities:||Portuguese Tax Authority|
(Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira)
What happens if the provided data is incorrect?
It should also be mentioned that for reporting incorrect data that will prevent correct verification or for failure to submit the new SAF-T, the taxpayer will be subject to a fine or criminal liability. However, the fine will not be imposed if the data is corrected within 14 days of the tax office’s request.
We hope this article could answer some questions and provide a brief overview of the Standard Audit File for Tax. Our experts are happy to assist you in case you need help with your SAF-T or have further questions regarding your current situation when it comes to submitting the required data to the authorities.