What is SAFT-T?
SAF-T (Standard Audit File of Tax) is primarily an electronic file whose purpose is, i.e. to make the processing of tax data between a company and foreign tax administrations easier and more efficient. With SAF-T it is possible to transfer and download data from the accounting software of a given company. In short, it is a certain format for storing accounting data.
SAF-T is used in various countries, but each country has the right to adapt its own requirements for electronic files, but the absolutely obligatory information stored in this format is data on purchases, sales or fixed assets. It should not be overlooked that the equivalent of SAF-T in Poland is nothing other than the ‘Jednolity Plik Kontrolny’ (JPK). It should be noted, however, that our reporting scheme is completely different from the files functioning abroad. Although the main idea of JPK was to adapt to the preferred OECD standards, it undoubtedly deviates from them.
What was the purpose of introducing SAF-T?
The main reason for the implementation of the SAF-T file was first and foremost to implement the OECD program, the guiding idea of which was to deal with the electronic development to date and thus to regulate tax transparency. To this end, certain standards were developed that presented the entities concerned with a simplification in terms of setting out he specific conditions that the file should fulfil.
Furthermore, international tax authorities have the right to establish a given format and details. The possibility introduced in this way allows not only the obtaining of information on an ongoing basis, but also a quicker and simplified analysis as to whether the data complies with the reporting mechanism. As a result, tax authorities can increase the effectiveness of control over tax collection while reducing costs.
Undoubtedly, the implementation of such solutions is time-consuming relative to implementing them in the accounting and financial system. However, taking into account the fact that SAF-T has a wide range of data, including information directly generated from the ledger and, at the same time, detailed information on the products concerned, warehouse operations carried out, data of persons submitting such a file and data of customers, suppliers or even accounts and tax codes, it may indeed be of significant importance in terms of tax control, in particular for entities conducting international business.
It is worth noting that by having such a file, the tax authorities obtain reliable information thanks to which both the tax administration and external auditors can efficiently of a given enterprise.
SAF-T in different countries
As already mentioned above, SAF-T is used in several European countries and is gaining popularity. The electronic file is used in Portugal, Norway, Lithuania, Hungary, Luxembourg and Austria. At the same time, as it has been mentioned, they differ significantly from the Polish JPK due to e.g. the number of files (for example in Norway it is only one file, where in Poland we have several).
It is known, however, that some files based on the standards are subjected to certain experiments in order to use their full potential to facilitate the process of efficiency, including i.e. minimalization of VAT fraud and lowering the tax gap.
It is worthwhile to additionally present the form of the single control file in force in Poland. It should be mentioned that the currently functioning JPKV7 is combination of a JPK VAT file with a VAT return, which means that it has been extended with additional data obliging a VAT taxpayer to systematically report information. Therefore, there is no doubt that the taxpayer bears higher responsibility for accurate submission of returns. The essence of these obligations is evidenced by, i.e. penalties for possible mistake submitted in the VAT JPK. For example, failure to submit explanations or corrections to JPK VAT in response to a appeal from the office will result in an administrative penalty of PLN 500 for each mistake.