Businesses could save vast amounts of money by switching to electronic invoicing, a Brussels conference heard last week, writes Gavin Hinks.
But there is a growing split over whether governments should take the lead in harmonising invoicing across Europe, or whether it should be a business-led initiative.
Accountants, tax experts and business representatives were told of the benefits of e-invoicing at a conference staged by the European Federation of Accountants held to discuss whether VAT can survive the 21st century. A consensus emerged that adopting electronic invoicing could make big savings.
Ine Lejeune, e-business tax partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ghent, told the assembled experts that their research revealed average savings made by switching from paper to e-invoicing was 75%.
‘If you look at the millions of papers produced you come to huge values,’ she said.
E-invoicing is closely bound up with moves at the EC to harmonise the form of invoices across member states. Chas Roy-Chowdhury, ACCA’s head of tax, expressed surprise that business should be responsible for driving e-invoicing forward.
‘It has to be government-led or it won’t make progress. There has to be private sector input, but governments have to get together to agree what they can live with.’
The European Federation of Accountants’ website is at www.efaa.com
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ website is at www.pwcglobal/uk.
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