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What should I bear in mind when invoicing for VAT purposes?

If you carry out a business activity (§ 2 UStG), you are entitled to issue invoices (§§ 14, 14a UStG). You are obliged to issue an invoice if, among other things, you provide a taxable service to another entrepreneur for his business. In this case, you must issue an invoice within 6 months of the performance of the service.

The invoice must meet certain formal requirements (§§ 14, 14a UStG) and contain the following information, among others:

  • Full name and address of the performing entrepreneur and the recipient of the service,
  • the tax number or VAT identification number issued to the performing entrepreneur
  • the date of issue,
  • a consecutive invoice number,
  • the quantity and type (customary description) of the goods supplied or the scope and nature of the other service provided
  • the remuneration,
  • the applicable tax rate and
  • the amount of tax payable on the consideration or, in the case of a tax exemption, an indication that the supply or other service is exempt.

Invoices up to a total gross amount of € 250 (so-called small value invoices, § 33 UStDV) do not need to contain all of the information specified in § 14 para. 4 UStG for reasons of simplification. Sufficient are:

  • The full name and address of the performing trader,
  • the date of issue,
  • the quantity and type (customary designation) of the goods supplied or the scope and type of other performance and
  • the consideration and the amount of tax payable on it in one sum (gross amount),
  • and the rate of tax applicable or, in the case of exemption, an indication that the supply or other service is exempt.

Note

As a small entrepreneur (§ 19 UStG) you are not allowed to show VAT separately in your invoices. In the case of small value invoices according to § 33 UStDV, the indication of the tax rate is considered as a separate tax statement. If you do not observe this and show the tax separately in invoices or state the tax rate in small-value invoices, this means that you owe the tax shown in accordance with § 14c Para. 2 UStG (unauthorised tax display). Your invoice recipients cannot deduct the unauthorized tax amounts as input tax.

Invoices can also be sent electronically (e.g. by e-mail with a pdf attachment), subject to the recipient's consent. Please note that electronically transmitted invoices must also be stored electronically in accordance with tax retention principles.

Paper and electronic invoices are treated the same for VAT purposes. Therefore, irrespective of whether the invoice is issued in electronic or paper form, the invoice must contain, for example, the mandatory information specified in § 14 (4) UStG

 

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