Road from optional to mandatory KSeF
As of 1 January 2022 taxable persons could issue structured invoices and submit them to their customers via the National E-Invoicing System KSeF. From today’s perspective, a structured invoice is simply one of the three invoice formats allowed for VAT purposes, alongside paper invoices and electronic invoices. For the time being the solution is optional. And it will remain so for some time to come.
The Ministry of Finance always wanted to make KSeF and structured invoices mandatory for all VAT payers. Originally the solution was supposed to become obligatory as of the second quarter of 2023. But it derogates from EU VAT legislation and as such requires consent from the European Commission. The Council’s implementing decision permitted Poland to introduce the solution as of 1 January 2024. However, after public consultations the authorities announced in February 2023 that the obligation would take effect as of 1 July 2024. It was as lately as December 2023 that Minister Domański made assurances that the Ministry was not planning to defer that date or working on such a deferral.
However, the authorities changed their mind. In a notice of 19 January 2024 the Finance Ministry officially confirmed the earlier verbal announcement that mandatory KSeF will be delayed, with no new effective date disclosed so far. All we know is that the revolution is not going to happen in 2024.
This is good for businesses
Businesses, accountants, and tax consultants have been increasingly emphatic for quite a while in trying get a message across to the authorities that taxable persons may be largely unable to meet the original mandatory KSeF deadline of 1 July 2024. There were many voices towards the end of the year calling for the invoicing revolution to be postponed.
The SME Ombudsman urged the Finance Ministry to introduce KSeF obligation on a staggered basis:
- as of July 2024 for large enterprises;
- as of January 2025 for medium enterprises,
- as of July 2025 for small enterprises, and
- as of January 2026 for microenterprises.
Business associations came up with similar ideas.
The announcement to postpone the mandatory KSeF has been broadly acclaimed by businesses. They now have more time to prepare. But there are concerns, too. Some largest firms have already spent substantial sums on KSeF implementation as they usually needed complex tailor-made IT solutions. Now that the whole system is going to be audited, if its logical structure or key assumptions were to be largely reengineered, some of that costly implementation will have to be revised or repeated. This would certainly mean further expenses and administrative efforts.
Reasons for postponement
According to the Finance Minister, certain errors were found that prevent the introduction of obligatory KSeF in mid-2024. This was the reason why an external IT audit was scheduled which necessitated postponement of system launch. The audit results will be relied upon to schedule a new effective date.
The Head of National Revenue Administration said that “KSeF should ensure operability also during IT errors or issues. Businesses must have the comfort of doing their business while knowing their invoices will end up in the system.”
Thus, it seems the postponement has been announced on the back of technical issues with KSeF, rather than after Ministry’s careful consideration of arguments from businesses and tax experts.
Seize the day!
Many organisations surely feel tempted to freeze the KSeF process and stop all preparations. After all, the authorities did not even announce a new deadline and there is no certainty that, once in operation, the system will function as it was intended to before.
But I advise against such an approach. I believe the authorities will do everything they can to make the new invoicing standard mandatory as soon as possible. The audit seems to focus mostly on the technical issues of throughput and cyber security. I don’t expect fundamental changes in KSeF logical structure or operating mission.
Accordingly, I think companies will do best to continue the transition and use the additional time to make sure they are better prepared. KSeF implementation is a complex and time-consuming process. Large organisations in particular are required to engage internal and external resources and experts and to ensure appropriate coordination of their work. Let’s not wait until it’s too late.