Sat, Jan. 29, 2005

Invoicing German Clients

CK - Washington.   Last year on this day, invoicing German clients became both more cumbersome and simpler. A new guideline by the Treasury Department in Berlin condoned electronic billing via EMail and invoicing by telefax transmission--which became legal in 2002 and was improved in 2004. The same guideline establishes the requirements for the content of invoices, transmission requirements and retention rules for the invoicer. Invoices that do not meet the requirements of the guideline do not qualify as tax deductible expenses.

In the past twelve months, there have been many discussions in various lawyer fora about the specifics of the invoicing guideline. Potential insecurities in text-processed documents or PDF files can render perfectly good invoices non-compliant.

The Forum Elektronische Steuerprüfung, among others, provides additional information. Some commenters urge the use of approved electronic signatures with such invoices. EMail-billing is discouraged as non-compliant. Whether invoicing by RSS qualifies seems uncertain.

RSS-billing would appear quite feasible, both under RSS 0.9 and higher and under RSS 2 with the enclosure option. The latter would enable invoicers to disseminate encrypted invoices bearing electronic signatures. David Sklar at O'Reilly would clearly favor RSS billing over EMail invoices and makes a case for it.


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