In this article, we will try to assess SAF-T processes in Portugal and the public administrations involved in these processes.
As in other EU countries, EU Directive 2014/55 regulated the implementation and receipt of e-invoicing for public procurement in Portugal. Managing and coordinating the e-invoicing process are carried out by ESPAP (Department for Public Administration Services). The model chosen by Portugal allows local organizations to select their e-invoicing solution. It is also a decentralized model that uses the solution provided by ESPAP.
What is SAF-T?
The Portuguese Ministry of Finance has created an additional requirement. Therefore, for every invoice arranged an electronic document is issued. And to be shown to the tax office before sending to customers is presented. The SAF-T is a specification for a computer-readable file that transfers accounting data from the original accounting system into a predefined format derived from XML and makes it available for tax authorities for external auditing. Regardless of the program used with SAF-T, transport documents and receipts can be issued in a common and readable format without affecting the internal structure or functionality of the program database.
2.1 SAF-T Portugal Edition (PT)
Since 2013 the SAF-T Portugal Edition (PT) file was also used as the basis for the regular submission of invoicing and logistics data to the tax authorities by taxpayers (via the e-invoicing website). The SAF-T (PT) file intends to facilitate gathering relevant tax data in electronic form by tax inspectors to aid taxpayers’ tax returns and analyze accounting records. In this regard, the SAF-T (PT) document requires an XML structure. There is no specific format for invoice status. Interested parties can agree to use existing standards (EDIFACT, X12, XML). SAF-T must be manufactured on a computer system approved by the Portuguese Tax and Customs Administration (Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira – AT). It must be declared through public network services. The invoice to be sent to the customer must contain the SAF-T file and a unique code received with the response from AT. This code includes the signature of the previous invoice so that invoices are guaranteed one after the other.
2.2 Transmission of financial and logistical information to AT in the Portuguese version of SAF-T
In 2008, a requirement to create a Standard Audit File for Tax Purposes (SAF-T (PT)) was introduced for headquartered organizations to conduct a more efficient tax audit and reduce time using technological tools. In 2011, the Portuguese Tax and Customs Administration (AT) started a certification program for invoicing and logistics software. In 2013, the monthly notification to the AT began about invoices, receipts, and transport documents. In 2014, the “Invoice Lottery” application started increasing the invoice demand of end-users. In 2015, the monthly notification of the working documents and the inventory notification to AT began at the end of the year.
It is possible to summarize how SAF-T (PT) works: sales invoices (documentos comerciais a clientes), transport documents (documentos de transporte), and customer payments are recorded directly in the accounting system. A standard SAF-T (PT) file in XML format is created from the data processed in the accounting system. This file is the source for the tax return. Sales transmit to AT via the finance portal (Portal das Finanças). Transport documents (transport documents: Guia de Remessa, Guia de Transporte, invoice) are sent to AT after a standard SAF-T (PT) file has been created in XML format.