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New in russia electronic (digital) signatures, electronic vat invoices, electronic source documents


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New in russia electronic (digital) signatures, electronic vat invoices, electronic source documents

  1. 1. 12.09.2012NEW IN RUSSIA: ELECTRONIC (DIGITAL) SIGNATURES, ELECTRONIC VATINVOICES, ELECTRONIC SOURCE DOCUMENTSFollowing changes in the law you can now take the leap into the modern world of electronic(digital) document flow in Russia. Now the Russian law and practices will allow: electronicsignatures; electronic VAT invoices; electronic accounting sources documents; electroniccontracting; electronic document flow between companies and with state organs (such as the taxauthority).Below we will give a short overview of the relevant laws.Electronic signatures.Starting on 1 July 2012, the use of electronic signatures is regulated by the new law No. 63-FZ“On Electronic Signature,” dated 6 April 2011 (hereinafter the Law). The new law expands thetypes of electronic signatures while granting individuals and legal entities the opportunity tochoose exactly the electronic signature that best suits them in the business environment.Digital signatures can now be legally used for the following purposes: • exchange of documents electronically between business entities and state organs • signing off accounting documents and tax returns • filing of reports to the pension and social funds • filing of reports to the statistics authority • filing of various kind of notifications and official reports to other authoritiesThe possibility of using an electronic signature (ES) in various fields of activity significantlysimplifies many procedures and speeds up the process of document flow.An ES can be used in the following cases: • flow of documents between a client and a bank; • submission of documents to supervisory bodies (tax authorities, state insurance funds, state statistical service); • electronic document flow between organizations and state institutions (to ensure the possibility of engaging in electronic document flow, it is necessary that subjects transmitting data possess electronic signature keys); • a company’s participation in electronic auctions and tenders for placement of state orders; MOSCOW, ST.PETERSBURG, TVER, YEKATERINBURG, KYIV, HELSINKI WWW.AWARAGROUP.COM
  2. 2. • a company’s access to the Russian register of real estate objects and registered rights to those objects; • use of ES in relations with the customs authorities.For the above-mentioned fields in which ES is used, there exist certain requirements which mustbe observed in order to obtain an electronic signature.Electronic sources documentsThe new law on accounting records, which enters into force in 2013 (hereinafter the new law),envisages the possibility of compiling accounting source documents in the form of an electronicdocument signed with an electronic signature.The current law on accounting records contains no direct prohibition on the compiling ofaccounting source documents in electronic form, but none the less this uncertainty in the law, asoften as not, has raised numerous questions to which the ministry of finance had to respond(Ministry of Finance letters of 24 July 2008 No. 03-02-07/1-314 and of 11 January 2012 No. 03-02-07/1-2).The problem was also based in the fact that the provisions of the tax code dictated that alldocuments sent to the tax authorities during inspection must be put together according to certainestablished formats (Articles 93 and 93.1). No electronic unified forms of accounting sourcedocuments were developed, and therefore, use of them was problematic.In order to resolve this problem, in March 2012, the FNS (Federal Tax Service) issued twoorders, which establish the electronic formats for the most up-to-date and necessary primarydocuments (FNS Orders No. MMB-7-6/138@ of 5 March 2012 and No. MMB-7-6/172@ of 21March 2012). These orders relate to the electronic formats of the invoice and bill of lading(TORG - 12).With approval of electronic unified formats, the possibility arose to present them in electronicform via telecommunications channels with the use of electronic signatures to the tax authoritiesor their counterparties. It is obvious that, with the acceptance of the main source documents, theshare of paper document flow will go down regarding exchange of invoices and bills of ladingfor VAT.However, it yet remains unclear whether the tax authorities will demand the compilation ofinvoices and bills of lading in electronic form for unified formats or not.On the one hand, the new law cancels the standardization of source documents, and bestows thepowers to approve the forms of the source documents on the manager of the organization; theseforms should contain a minimum number of mandatory requisites for those forms. Under thenew accounting law the source documents must contain at least these mandatory requirements: a) Title of the document; b) Date on which the document is drawn up; MOSCOW, ST.PETERSBURG, TVER, YEKATERINBURG, KYIV, HELSINKI WWW.AWARAGROUP.COM
  3. 3. c) Name of the entity; d) Nature of the business operation; e) Volume and monetary indicators of the business operation (and other such descriptions); f) Positions of officials responsible for the completion and proper documentation of the relevant transactions; g) Personal signatures (and other needed identification) of these (above mentioned) officials.For example, if one company provides services including consulting or legal services to anothercompany in Russia, it must draw up a specific source document, including all the abovereference details. In practice, such a document is called a ‘certificate of acceptance of services’.This certificate should be signed by both the service provider and the client.On the other hand, the above-mentioned orders were issued in order to implement the provisionsof Articles 93 and 93.1 of the Tax Code, which compel taxpayers to submit requested documentsin electronic form and in certain established formats when an inspection is carried out. Hence, acontradiction exits between the new law on accounting and the tax code.In one of its letters, the Ministry of Finance confirmed that to submit at the request of the taxauthorities documents compiled according to the established formats, one must submit them inhard copy on which a note is inscribed stating that the document was signed using an electronicsignature (letter of the Ministry of Finance dated 26 August 2011 No. 03-03-06/521).In connection with this, we would like to point out that at present, use of electronic documentsthat do not match the formats set by the FNS may lead to a situation where the tax authorities,when carrying out an inspection, might have legal grounds to request analogues of thedocuments in hard copy.Electronic VAT invoicesAs a sizeable addition to the field of electronic document flow, in 2012 it has become possible touse electronic invoices approved by order of the FNS (No. MMВ-7-6/138@ dated 5 March2012). However, it should be mentioned that in order to have the possibility of using electronicinvoices, one must follow a certain procedure established by the Ministry of Finance (order No.50n dated 25 April 2011).In particular, this procedure stipulates the following features for organizing electronic documentflow when exchanging invoices: • Invoices may be compiled in electronic form solely upon the mutual consent of parties to a transaction, given their possession of the commensurate technical resources and possibilities for accepting and processing those invoices; • Drawing up and receiving invoices in electronic form should be done through specialized operators in the field of electronic document flow. Exchange of invoices in electronic form is possible both through one and through several operators in electronic document flow; MOSCOW, ST.PETERSBURG, TVER, YEKATERINBURG, KYIV, HELSINKI WWW.AWARAGROUP.COM
  4. 4. • Invoices made out in electronic form must be signed with an electronic signature permitting identification of the owner of the signature key certificate, and also establishing the absence of any distortion of the information; • Obtaining the electronic key certificate must be done from the specialized operator listed among the trusted centers of the RF FNS; • Electronic document flow must be done for each invoice separately; • Invoices may be both encrypted and non-encrypted; • Participants in electronic exchange of invoices must ensure storage of all documents signed using an electronic signature jointly with the signature key certificate.Applying electronic VAT invoicing will not be compulsory and it is up to the parties of thetransaction to decide upon using the system based on mutual consent and availability ofcompatible technical means. That said, the method of expressing mutual consent of partners tocompile invoices in electronic form is not regulated by tax legislation; therefore such consent canbe documented via exchange of documents without drafting a special agreement (letter of theMinistry of Finance dated 1 August 2011 No. 03-07-09/26).For further information, please write to the author: Eugeny Isaev, General Director of Awara Group E-mail: LinkedIn page: MOSCOW, ST.PETERSBURG, TVER, YEKATERINBURG, KYIV, HELSINKI WWW.AWARAGROUP.COM