SAF-T is a file format proposed by the OECD in 2005 to make digital tax audits faster and more reliable. The Standard Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines the SAF-T format as an international standard for external auditors of national tax authorities or organizations to access accounting data electronically, reliably and quickly.
The format itself is based on XML technology.
For example, this format was used for the publication of annual financial statements in Germany in the Federal official newspaper of Germany (Bundesgesetzblatt).
Portugal adapted it according to themselves, making several additions to the format proposed by the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD).
Austria like Portugal expanded this format to cover its local issues and began to use it in some areas such as asset accounting.
Other countries, such as Spain, are also planning to switch to a SAF-T format that has been modified and is compatible with their accounting finance systems, but countries such as the United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France employ simple flat file formats.
SAF-T IN AUSTRIA
The digital tax audit has been in use in Austria since 1999. One of the most important principles of this format is that all accounting and financial data and records can be easily presented to tax authorities when demanded.
As a rule, tax auditors require journals, the general ledger, a list of accounts payable and accounts receivable as well as balance lists in electronic form.
SAF-T IN POLAND
2017 was a very important year for Poland in terms of sales, income, and corporate tax returns. Tax documents were required to be submitted electronically to the tax authorities in a gradual way. It has since applied to summary reports on domestic trade activities covering a larger group of goods or services covered by the” counterparty payment procedure”. (including construction works in the broadest sense).
A small or medium-sized company has to electronically transmit all VAT records in SAF-T format to be able to trade.
This requirement, which has been valid for large companies since 1 July 2016, applies not only to local companies but also to foreign companies located in Poland.
A company that refuses to submit the accounting documents as SAF-T files, or does not submit them within the specified time, receives penalties.
SAF-T IN LITHUANIA
Lithuanian Tax Authorities have started to implement what they call the “Intelligent Tax Management System” (i.e. MAS).
The Lithuanian government is considering establishing a tax system in the future through which taxpayers can access their activities in a fast, easy and reliable manner.
In October 2016, the first two subsystems of the new smart tax administration, i.SAF (Electronic Billing) and i.VAZ (Electronic Dispatch Notes) were introduced.
All domestic or foreign companies registered as VAT payers in Lithuania are now obliged to submit i.SAF to the tax authorities.
I. VAZ has mandated to provide its shipments electronically. The participant is responsible for the electronic transmission of dispatch notes.
SAF-T IN NORWAY
Companies under NOK 5 million have been exempt from the mandatory requirements to store their data electronically. The Norwegian Ministry of Finance has reported that businesses with accounting obligations are obliged to provide accounting information in the SAF-T format only at the request of the Norwegian Tax Administration.
The purposes of using the SAF-T format for Norway are:
Make it easier for people responsible for maintaining accounting records to submit their accounting records to authorities on request.
Conduct internal control audits, analyze data, and make data sharing easier and faster with others, such as external auditors, or between different accounting systems.
Since the SAF-T file can produce all compulsory financial reports, it also helps meet the conditions for storing such accounting information, so the obligation to keep accounting information in a secure environment can be stored more easily.