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26
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26 (121) 2016
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Events coverage

Early business experiences with the Single Audit File for Tax

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The BPCC’s Tax and Finance Reform policy group met on 16 September 2016 to sum up the first days since the Single Audit File for Tax came into force for large firms came into force on 1 July.

Speakers summarised their experiences of the dozens of e-tax audits and the preparation and transmission of reports from to the tax authorities using SAF-T.

"To date, around 5,700 firms have submitted their VAT returns on the SAF-T, said Wieslaw Jasinski, undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Finance and  general inspector of Treasury Control, who was the guest of honour at the event. Mr Jasiński shared insights arising from the first experiences, which have not always been positive.

A survey conducted among business taxpayers, carried out by accountancy software provider Sage has shown that up to 60% of the control files sent may contain errors. Almost half of taxpayers admitted to a lack of certainty as to whether or not the files they generated and then sent to the tax authorities contained errors.

Mr Jasiński was accompanied by deputy director of the Department of Fiscal Control in the Ministry of Finance, Przemyslaw Krawczyk, who pointed out that thanks to SAF-T, the ministry now has quicker access to information than Poland’s central statistical office, which means that anomalies can be caught much quicker. Mr Krawczyk spoke in detail about future updates to the SAF-T. which are to be implemented by January 2018. During a short panel discussion, there was question from the audience as to whether the Ministry intends to exclude foreign business entities from reporting using SAF-T. Mr Krawczyk pointed out that the legislation does not provide for exemptions from the compulsory use of SAT-T.

From the discussions arising during the conference and from the research carried out by Sage, it is clear that the process of implementing SAF-T in companies is not always easy, simple or enjoyable. Statistics show that for almost half of companies (47%), a major challenge was the short time to given to prepare for the new requirements. And for small- and medium-sized businesses, which are also obliged to report using SAF-T, this time is also shrinking fast – they must be ready to reporting their VAT records using SAF-T in three months.

Entities that have already learnt how to create SAF-T files have encountered further obstacles. For 21% of respondents, sending reports for e-audits proved problematic, while almost a quarter of taxpayers admitted that for them the greatest difficulty was to merge large amounts of data into one file.

No wonder, then, that the vast majority of companies admitted that the preparation, implementation and support processes associated with SAF-T requires external support. Few large companies are able to cope with such a complicated process. And yet a huge number of small- and medium-sized businesses, who will be obliged to file their VAT returns using SAF-T from 1 January, will find that the closer they get to the deadline, the more difficult it will be for them to find a suitable partner to help them through this process.

Therefore SMEs should prepare for SAF-T implementation as soon as possible. Every day’s delay increases the risk of the process going wrong, which in turn is associated with the threat of severe criminal sanctions.

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