- Importance of Invoices and Credit Notes
- Who must issue a VAT Invoice?
- Information required on Invoices
- Increase in Invoiced Amounts – Supplementary Invoices
- Decrease in Invoiced Amounts – Credit Notes
- Where a Credit Note is not required
- Incorrect Rate of VAT charged – Credit Note and Revised Invoice required
- Information required on Credit Notes
- Settlement Vouchers and Debit Notes
- Self-billing and Outsourcing Arrangements
- Invoices, etc issued in Foreign Currency
- Time Limit for issuing VAT Invoices and Credit Notes
- Incorrect Amounts on VAT Invoices and Credit Notes
- Invoices issued by Unregistered Persons
- Margin Scheme goods / Special Scheme for Auctioneers / Special Scheme for second-hand Motor Vehicles
- Hire Purchase Transactions
- Flat-rate Farmers
- Simplified Invoicing
- Electronic Invoicing
- Retention of, and Inspection of, Records
- Further Information
This information leaflet sets out the current rules relating to the issue of invoices, credit notes and other documents for VAT purposes, and outlines the importance of these documents in the operation of the VAT system.
2.1 The information given on invoices and credit notes normally establishes the VAT liability of the supplier of goods or services and the entitlement of the customer to a deduction, where applicable, for the VAT charged. It is vital, therefore, that these documents are properly drawn up and carefully retained. The checking of these documents forms a most important part of the periodic examination, which Revenue officers may make of a trader’s VAT position.
2.2 VAT law contains specific requirements for the issue and retention of invoices, credit notes and related documents. Failure to comply with these requirements leaves a trader liable to penalties. Traders who issue invoices and credit notes, and persons to whom these documents are issued, should ensure that the documents accurately represent the transactions to which they refer.
3.1 An accountable person (that is, a person registered for VAT) who supplies goods or services (except construction services supplied under a relevant contract. See Paragraph 3.3). is obliged to issue a VAT invoice where the supply is made to any of the following:
- another taxable person,
- a Government Department,
- a local authority,
- a body established by statute,
- a person who caries on an activity which is exempt from VAT,
- a person, who is not an individual, in another EU Member State,
- a person in another EU Member State where a reverse charge applies, that is, where the VAT is not accountable for by the supplier in Ireland but is accountable for by the customer in the other EU Member State, and
- a person in another EU Member State under the distance selling rules. Distance selling occurs when a supplier in one EU Member State sells goods to a person in another EU Member State who is not registered for VAT and the supplier is responsible for the delivery of the goods. It includes mail order sales and phone or tele-sales but does not include sales of new means of transport or excisable goods. (Information Leaflet relating to the treatment of distance sales.)
3.2 It should be noted that an accountable person is required, if requested in writing, to issue a VAT invoice in respect of a transaction with an unregistered person in the State who is entitled to a repayment of the VAT. An accountable person is not required to issue a VAT invoice to an unregistered person otherwise, but may do so if he or she so wishes.
3.3. With effect from 1 September 2008, where a sub-contractor registered in the State or a non-established sub-contractor supplies construction services to a principal contractor involved in construction operations in the State, as defined by Section 530 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, VAT is accounted for on a reverse charge basis by the principal contractor. In such circumstances the sub-contractor should not issue a VAT invoice but instead should issue a document containing all the information required on a VAT invoice (see Paragraph 4.1) except the VAT rate and VAT amount. The document should also include the notation "VAT on this supply to be accounted for by the principal contractor".
4.1 The VAT invoice issued must show:
- the date of issue of the invoice,
- a sequential number, based on one or more series, which uniquely identifies the invoice,
- the full name, address and VAT registration number of the person who supplied the goods or services to which the invoice relates,
- the full name and address of the person to whom the goods or services were supplied,
- in the case of a reverse charge supply, the VAT identification number of the person to whom the supply was made (except in the case of construction services supplied by a sub-contractor to a principal contractor, see Paragraph 3.3), and an indication that a reverse charge applies,
- in the case of the supply of goods, other than a reverse charge supply, to a person registered for VAT in another EU Member State, the person’s VAT identification number in that Member State and an indication that the invoice relates to an intra-Community supply of goods,
- the quantity and nature of the goods supplied or the extent and nature of the services supplied,
- the date on which the goods or services were supplied or, where payment in full, or by instalments, for goods or services is made before the completion of the supply, the date on which the payment on account was made in so far as that date differs from the date of issue of the invoice.
- the unit price, exclusive of tax, of the goods or services supplied, any discounts or price reductions not included in the unit price, and the consideration for the supply exclusive of VAT,
- except where a reverse charge applies, the amount of the consideration exclusive of VAT taxable at each rate (including zero rate) of VAT and the rate of tax chargeable,
- the VAT payable in respect of the supply, except where a reverse charge applies or where the Margin Scheme, Special Scheme for Auctioneers or Special Scheme for second-hand Motor Vehicles applies (see paragraph 16), and
- in the case where a tax representative is liable to pay VAT in another EU Member Sate, the full name and address and value-added tax identification number of the representative.
4.2 As indicated in paragraph 4.1, the unit price has to be shown on an invoice. This applies to countable goods and services. For services this could be, for example, an hourly rate or a price for standard services. If the supply of a particular service cannot readily be broken down into countable elements, then, the total tax-exclusive price for the specific service will be accepted as the unit price.
4.3 An invoice issued by an accountable person relating to an Intra-Community supply of a new means of transport must include details necessary to identify the goods as a new means of transport. In the case of motor vehicles, "new" means that the vehicle has been supplied 6 months or less after the date of first entry into service or that it has travelled 6,000 kilometres or less.
4.4 Where a person is engaged in EU triangular transactions, the person must also include an explicit reference to the EU simplified triangulation arrangements on the invoice. Triangulation involves two supplies of goods between three VAT-registered traders in three different EU Member States, e.g. where a trader in one Member State orders goods from a trader in a second Member State, to be delivered to a trader in a third Member State.
5.1 Because the amount of VAT shown on an invoice affects the VAT liability of both the VAT-registered supplier and the VAT-registered customer, any change in the amount of VAT payable or deductible on an invoice must be properly vouched.
5.2If, subsequent to the issue of an invoice, the amount charged is increased, the supplier must issue a supplementary invoice on which the increase in the charge and the appropriate VAT rate is shown.
6.1 Where, because of an allowance or discount or similar adjustment, the amount of VAT payable as shown on an invoice is subsequently reduced, the person who issued the invoice should issue a credit note (but see paragraph 7.1). This note should state the amount of the reduction in the price and the appropriate VAT. The supplier may then reduce, by the amount credited, his or her liability for the accounting period in which the credit note is issued, and the recipient must increase his or her liability by the same amount. All credit notes must contain a reference to the corresponding invoices.
6.2 Where the supplier is accounting for VAT on the moneys received basis, a credit note showing VAT must always be issued. No reduction in the supplier’s VAT liability may be made on this account. The VAT deduction or credit available to the customer on the basis of the original invoice is reduced as a result of the issue of the credit note.
6.3 The cash receipts basis of accounting does not apply to a transaction where a supplier on the cash receipts basis grants a discount to a customer after issuing a VAT invoice, but subsequently fails to issue a credit note.
7.1 A VAT-registered supplier on the invoice/sales basis and a VAT-registered customer may agree in respect of a transaction not to make any change in the VAT shown on the original invoice. In such circumstances, even if the price charged is reduced subsequently, there is no obligation to issue a credit note in respect of the VAT and the amount of VAT originally invoiced is allowed to stand.
7.2 The arrangements mentioned in paragraph 7.1 above apply in the circumstances where the discount or other reduction is taken on the goods or services only. If the customer takes the discount or other reduction on the VAT as well as on the price, the supplier must always issue a credit note. If the supplier is accounting for VAT on the invoiced sales basis, the supplier must then adjust his or her VAT liability downwards and the customer must adjust his or her VAT liability upwards. Moreover, a VAT-registered supplier who is on the moneys received basis of accounting must always issue a credit note.
8.1 Where a person issues a VAT invoice that shows a rate of VAT, which is subsequently found to be higher than the rate correctly applicable, the person must issue a credit note cancelling the invoice and must then issue a revised invoice. This may arise, for example, in relation to an intra-Community supply where the supplier charges VAT initially (e.g. because of being unsure that the goods will leave the State) and subsequently is satisfied that the goods should have been zero-rated. However, the rule is not confined to intra-Community supplies; it is equally applicable in the case of internal supplies where tax is charged at the standard rate when a reduced rate is in fact applicable.
The credit note must show:
- the date of issue of the note,
- a number, which uniquely identifies the note,
- the full name, address and VAT registration number of the person issuing the note,
- the full name, address and VAT registration number of the person to whom the note is being issued,
- in the case of a supply to a person who is registered for value-added tax in another EU Member State, the person’s VAT identification number in that Member State,
- the reason why the note is being issued and a cross-reference to the invoice which was issued for the supply in respect of which the consideration was reduced,
- the amount of the consideration, exclusive of tax, in respect of which the note is being issued, and
- the rate or rates of tax in force when the related invoice was issued and the amount of tax at each rate as appropriate to the consideration shown on the note (other than where the reverse charge applied on the transaction).
Settlement vouchers and debit notes are often used in commercial transactions instead of invoices and credit notes. Settlement vouchers and debit notes must contain the VAT registration number of the person issuing them and the VAT registration number of the supplier, in addition to all the other details required to be shown by an accountable person on invoices and credit notes. It is also a condition that the supplier of goods or services is prepared to accept such documents. If accepted, the supplier is subject to the same obligations as if he or she had issued an invoice or credit note.
11.1 Where a person supplies goods or services to a customer who is registered for VAT, the customer may issue the required invoice provided –
- there is prior agreement between the supplier and the customer that the customer may draw up and issue the invoice,
- all conditions relating to the content or issue of the invoice are met by the customer, and
- agreed procedures are in place for the acceptance by the supplier of the validity of the invoice.
An invoice issued under these arrangements is regarded as having been issued when the supplier accepts it in accordance the agreed procedures referred to above.
11.2 A supplier may outsource the issuing of invoices. When an invoice is issued under outsourcing arrangements it is regarded as having been issued by the supplier if –
- the invoice is issued by a person who acts in the name and on behalf of the supplier, and
- all conditions relating to the content or issue of the invoice are met.
11.3 Self-billing and outsourcing can also apply to credit notes and debit notes.
12.1 Invoices issued for VAT purposes in amounts expressed in foreign (non-€ denominated) currency should contain the corresponding figures in € and must contain the actual VAT amount in €. The copy of the invoice that has to be retained must show the same figures. This rule also applies to credit notes, debit notes and settlement vouchers.
12.2 The latest selling rate recorded by the Central Bank at the time the VAT becomes due should be used when converting foreign currency invoices. The Central Bank rates for most major currencies appear on a daily basis in the newspapers. It is possible, by agreement with Revenue, to use an alternative method of determining the exchange rate, for example, the rate determined on a calendar month basis under the monthly rate of exchange system for customs valuation purposes. Such agreements are subject to the condition that the agreed method must be used in respect of all the trader’s foreign currency transactions. Traders who wish to avail of this facility should write to their local Revenue District responsible for their tax affairs indicating the exchange rate method they propose to use and obtain appropriate agreement.
13.1 In general, where a VAT invoice has to be issued, it must be issued within 15 days of the end of the month in which the goods or services are supplied. In the case of a supplementary invoice, the invoice must be issued within 15 days following either the day on which the increased in consideration is paid or the day on which the increase in consideration is agreed between the parties concerned, whichever is the earlier.
13.2 Situations may arise where payment in full, or by instalments, for goods or services supplied to a VAT-registered person is made before the completion of the supply. In such cases the person receiving payment must issue an invoice within 15 days following the end of the month following that during which each payment was received. This rule does not apply in the case of intra-Community supplies of goods.
13.3 In the case of credit notes, where a decrease is due to a discount, the note must be issued within 15 days following the date of receipt of the money to which the discount relates. In any other case, the credit note must be issued within 15 days on which the decrease in consideration is agreed between the parties concerned.
13.4 Failure to issue an invoice or credit note in time leaves the person concerned liable to penalties.
A VAT-registered trader who issues an invoice showing a greater amount of VAT than is correct for the transaction is nonetheless liable for the whole amount of VAT shown on the invoice. If a trader issues a credit note showing a lesser amount of VAT than is proper, the trader is liable for the deficiency. In either case the trader may also be liable to penalties.
Where a trader not registered for VAT issues an invoice showing an amount of VAT, that trader is liable for the VAT shown on the invoice. Such a person also leaves himself liable to penalties.This rule does not apply to an unregistered farmer who issues an invoice under the special arrangements for flat-rate farmers (see paragraph 18).
16. Margin Scheme goods / Special Scheme for Auctioneers / Special Scheme for second-hand Motor Vehicles
16.1 In so far the amount on which VAT is chargeable is concerned, special schemes operate in relation to sales by dealers and auctioneers of second-hand movable goods, works of art, collectors items and antiques. The principal feature of the schemes is that dealers and auctioneers effectively pay VAT only on their margin in certain circumstances. Where a supply of goods is made under either of these schemes, the invoice must indicate that the appropriate scheme applies.
16.2 A special scheme also operates in relation to the VAT treatment of second-hand motor vehicles. It provides for the right to deduct residual VAT in respect of the purchase of a qualifying second-hand vehicle, including by way of trade-in. A separate VAT Information Leaflet on the VAT treatment of second-hand vehicles is available.
17.1 Where a supply of goods is subject to a hire-purchase agreement, the supplier is obliged to issue the VAT invoice to the financial institution concerned instead of to the customer. The invoice must contain the name and address of the financial institution, in addition to the standard information required on a VAT invoice.
17.2 The financial institution is entitled to a credit for such VAT and must issue a VAT invoice to a taxable person for the purposes of enabling the customer to claim VAT deductibility. If a hire-purchase agreement contains all the details required on a VAT invoice then that document will be accepted as a VAT invoice. The document must include the name, address and VAT registration number of the supplier, the name and address of both the financial institution and the customer, and must show separately the amount of tax that appeared on the corresponding invoice received by the financial institution. The document must be issued within 22 days following the month of supply of the goods.
17.3 Where a financial institution receives a VAT credit note in a hire-purchase agreement, after goods have been supplied and invoiced to a customer, the institution must then issue to the customer a document corresponding to that credit note. The document must contain the details required on a normal VAT credit note, and the amount shown on the document in respect of tax is the amount by which the customer’s entitlement to a VAT deduction is to be reduced.
17.4 The financial institution is responsible for the full VAT amount contained on the document that serves as a VAT invoice. If the amount allowed as a credit to the customer is in excess of the amount shown on the supplier’s invoice, the institution is liable for the excess.
18.1 Flat-rate farmers supplying agricultural produce or services, or supplying agricultural machinery to an accountable dealer, are required to issue an invoice (flat-rate invoice) for these supplies in accordance with sections 12A and 12C, respectively, of the Value-Added Tax Act 1972 if:
- the issue of the invoice is requested by the purchaser,
- the purchaser provides the form for the invoice and enters the appropriate particulars on it, and
- the purchaser gives the flat-rate farmer a copy of the invoice.
A flat-rate farmer may nevertheless choose to issue the invoice even if any of these conditions are not fulfilled.
18.2 Every invoice issued by a flat-rate farmer in respect of agricultural produce or an agricultural service is required to be acknowledged by that farmer and to include the following particulars:
- the date of issue of the invoice,
- the full name and address of the flat-rate farmer who supplied the goods or services to which the invoice relates,
- the full name, address and registration number of the person to whom the goods or services have been supplied,
- in the case of a supply of agricultural produce or an agricultural service to a person registered for value-added tax in another Member State, the person’s value-added tax identification number in that Member State,
- the quantity and nature of the goods supplied or the extent and nature of the services rendered,
- the date on which the goods or services were supplied,
- the consideration, exclusive of the flat-rate addition, for the supply, and
- the rate and amount of the flat-rate addition appropriate to the consideration shown on the invoice.
18.3 Where after the issue of a flat-rate invoice the consideration is increased or reduced, then -
- if the consideration is increased, a further invoice for the additional amount must be issued, subject to the same conditions as regards the preparation of the invoice by the purchaser, etc., and
- if the consideration is reduced, the farmer must issue a farmer credit note if the customer is a taxable person and the taxable person must make a corresponding adjustment in the amount of flat-rate credit claimed as a deduction.
18.4 If a person, other than a flat-rate farmer, issues a flat rate invoice, that person is liable for the amount of the flat-rate addition and, for the purposes of payment of the amount, is treated as a taxable person.
18.5 If a flat-rate farmer issues an invoice for a fictitious transaction or for an inflated amount for a genuine transaction, he or she is liable for the amount of the flat-rate addition or the excess amount, as appropriate. For the purposes of payment of the amount in question, the flat-rate farmer will be treated as taxable person.
18.6 If a flat-rate farmer is obliged to issue a farmer credit note but fails to do so within the relevant time limit, he or she is liable for the amount of the flat-rate addition that should have been stated on the note. If he or she issues a farmer credit stating a lesser sum of flat-rate addition than is appropriate to the reduction in consideration or discount, he or she is liable for the amount of the deficiency of the flat-rate addition. In either of these cases the flat-rate farmer is treated as an accountable person for the purposes of payment of the amount due. He or she is also liable to penalties.
19.1 Simplified arrangements for issuing invoices, credit notes, settlement vouchers or debit notes may be allowed -
- when commercial, technical or administrative practices in a particular business sector make it difficult to comply with general invoicing requirements, or
- if the amount of the invoice is minor.
19.2 Under a simplified arrangement the relevant documents must include the following details:
- the date of issue,
- the identification of the supplier, including the supplier’s VAT number,
- the identification of the types of goods or services supplied, and
- the tax due or the information needed to calculate the tax due.
19.3 Revenue has agreed simplified invoicing arrangements in the Corporate Purchasing Card sector and may negotiate similar agreements in other sectors. In the case of the Corporate Purchasing Card sector, it has been agreed that:
- the Evidence for VAT Deduction Report is recognised as a VAT Invoice and contains the information necessary to form a valid invoice.
- such reports can be used as the basis for claiming input credit.
- input credit can be claimed by reference to the transaction date rather than the date of issue of the report.
- commodity codes as agreed with Revenue can be used to describe goods and services.
- such reports can be either in paper or electronic format.
19.4 Credit Card companies, which have Corporate Purchasing Card schemes, must satisfy their customers that the simplified VAT invoicing procedure in operation by the company has been approved by the Revenue Commissioners.
19.5 Applications for approval of simplified invoicing arrangements should be made to VAT Interpretation Branch, Indirect Taxes Division, Revenue Commissioners, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2 via the applicant’s Revenue District.
20.1 It is open to traders to operate an electronic invoicing system provided the particulars to be contained in such invoices or other documents are recorded, retained and transmitted electronically by a system that ensures the integrity of those particulars and the authenticity of their origin.
20.2 Invoices, etc maybe transmitted between trading partners using either an electronic data interchange (EDI) system, or an advanced electronic signature (AES) and associated system, which satisfy the requirements set out below. An accountable person may also use a different electronic system to the EDI or AES systems, provided the requirements in question are met and the person notifies the Revenue Commissioners accordingly.Up to 31 December 2005, it was necessary for traders to notify Revenue prior to the commencement of the transmission of electronic invoices, etc.
20.3 The electronic system in use must be capable of –
- producing, retaining and storing, and making available to a Revenue officer on request, electronic records and messages in such form and containing such particulars as are required for VAT purposes,
- reproducing paper copies of such records or messages,
- allocating a unique identification number for each message transmitted, and
- maintaining the electronic records in such manner as allows their retrieval by reference to a trading partner or the unique identification number of the message.
20.4 The system in use must also –
- preclude the repeated transmission of a message and the omission of a message from the electronic record,
- verify the origin or receipt of a message from a trading partner, and
- guarantee the integrity of the contents of a message or an electronic record related to that message during transmission and during the period for the retention of records for VAT purposes.
21.1 Every accountable person must retain all books, records and documents relevant to the business, including invoices, credit notes, settlement vouchers and debit notes (and copies of any such documents issued to another person). These business records must be preserved in their original form* for 6 years from the date of the latest transaction to which they refer, unless the written permission of the Revenue District has been obtained for their retention for a shorter period. This rule applies equally to electronic records and messages. In addition, an accountable person keeping electronic records must retain and store particulars such as details of the form of encryption, electronic signature, etc used and the format in which they are stored and how they can be accessed.
*Invoices that have been issued in paper form must be retained in paper form. Electronic retention of invoices is only acceptable where they were originally issued electronically.
21.2 Authorised Revenue officers have extensive powers in regard to the inspection of records, and failure by traders or their employees or associates to co-operate with the officers is an offence. These officers will have proof of their identity. They will check the trader’s VAT returns against the trader’s records and will crosscheck invoices, etc, against the suppliers’ and customers’ records. Returns of VAT will also be checked against the trading accounts for Income Tax and Corporation Tax purposes.
Enquiries regarding any issue contained in this Information Leaflet should be addressed to the Revenue District responsible for the taxpayer's affairs. Contact details for all Revenue Districts can be found on the Contact Details Page.
This leaflet has been issued by:
VAT Appeals & Communications Branch ,
Indirect Taxes Division,
This information leaflet which sets out the current practice at the date of its issue is intended for guidance only and does not purport to be a definitive legal interpretation of the provisions of the Value-Added Tax Act 1972 (as amended).