Invoicing - the most common problems


The concept of an invoice has been defined in the Value Added Tax Act. According to the introduced definition, an invoice is a document in paper or electronic form, containing data required by the act and regulations issued on its basis. On the other hand, an electronic invoice is understood as an invoice in electronic form, issued and received in any electronic format. Due to the fact that it is the basic document in transactions between entities, it can be the cause of many ambiguities and errors related to its issuance and settlement. Several situations, the occurrence of which may cause controversy among entrepreneurs, are presented below.

Invoicing - basic rules

The VAT invoice must be issued in at least two copies. One of them is obliged to hand over the goods or services to the buyer of the invoice. The invoice should be issued no later than on the 15th day of the month following the month in which the goods were delivered or the service was performed. However, it is possible to issue an invoice earlier than the date of delivery or service performance. However, not earlier than on the 30th day before making the transaction or receiving the advance payment.

Two copies of the invoice from the buyer

According to the regulations, as mentioned above, the invoice should be issued in at least two copies. One of them is to be transferred to the recipient of the goods or services, and the other is stored in the company documentation of the invoice issuer. What if the invoice issuer mistakenly gives both copies to the buyer of the good or service?

Well, having an invoice is important for the buyer, because the deduction of input VAT depends on it. On the other hand, the fact that the seller provides both copies of the invoice to the buyer does not release him from the necessity to settle the output VAT. Regardless of whether the seller has an invoice documenting a given transaction, he is obliged to include it in the sales record and pay the tax due on this transaction.

Receipt of a copy of the invoice and the possibility of VAT deduction

Pursuant to the applicable regulations, the issued VAT invoices no longer have to bear the "original" markings on the copy provided to the buyer and the "copy" on the invoice issuer's copy.

In a situation where the buyer receives an invoice marked "copy", this does not affect the right to deduct VAT on the purchase made on the basis of this document.

Advance payment that has not been documented by an invoice

If, prior to the delivery of the goods or the performance of the service, the seller has received all or part of the payment from the buyer, this gives rise to a tax obligation in relation to the amount paid. Therefore, the seller who received the advance payment must document it by issuing the advance invoice.

What should be done if the seller, despite the advance payment, does not document this activity with an advance invoice? How to force the seller to issue this document?

In connection with the failure to issue an advance invoice by the seller, the provisions of the Fiscal Penal Code provide for penal sanctions in the form of a fine of up to 180 daily rates (Article 62 § 1 of the Fiscal Penal Code of September 10, 1999). However, despite this, the buyer does not have the legal tools with which to require the seller to issue an advance invoice. The only thing the buyer can do is send the seller a request for such an invoice by registered mail.


The regulations define the catalog of transactions for which there is no obligation to issue an advance invoice. These transactions include:

  • intra-community delivery of goods,

  • activities for which the receipt of an advance payment does not give rise to a tax obligation, i.e .:

    • energy supply,

    • line gas supply,

    • telecommunication services,

    • hire,

    • lease,

    • leasing,

    • permanent legal and office services,

    • people and property protection services,

    • waste related services.

Issue of an invoice in the absence of a receipt

Taxpayers who are required to keep sales records by means of a cash register must each time issue a receipt to the customer, which is a confirmation of the transaction.

When making a sales record at the cash register, the entrepreneur is not obliged to issue an invoice. This obligation arises only when the customer requests it to be issued. The buyer may request an invoice within 3 months from the end of the month in which the transaction was made. After this time, the entrepreneur may refuse to issue an invoice.

However, the basis for issuing an invoice by the seller is the submission of the original receipt, which is a confirmation of the sale. However, there is often a situation where the customer, when requesting an invoice, does not have a receipt documenting the purchase of goods or services. What should be done in this situation?

In accordance with the individual interpretation issued by the Director of the Tax Chamber in Warsaw on June 23, 2010, no. IPPP2-443-175 / 10-4 / JB / KG; in a situation where the customer requests an invoice without a receipt, the seller should issue it provided that he has the ability to verify the transaction. The entrepreneur certainly has a copy of the receipt or has other systems that make it possible to find a given proof of purchase. Additionally, if the purchase was made with a payment card, the customer may also present a payment confirmation with a payment card. As can be seen from the above examples, there are several options to verify the transaction, which allows you to issue an invoice.

However, it should be borne in mind that if the sale has been documented with a fiscal receipt and an invoice has been issued in addition to this transaction, then the sale is recognized only once in the sales record. Otherwise, the same transaction would be taxed twice.

Is it possible to cancel an issued invoice?

The issue of canceling an issued invoice has not been regulated in the provisions of the VAT Act or secondary legislation. However, economic operators use this practice in some situations. It should be borne in mind that the cancellation of an invoice is possible only when the documented activity has not been performed. In addition, the cancellation of the invoice applies only to those documents that have not been introduced into legal circulation, i.e. have not been handed over to the contractor.

How do I cancel an invoice?

In order to cancel the issued invoice, cross out both copies of the document and place on them annotations that will prevent the use of these documents, eg put on them the inscription: "Canceled". Additionally, the documents should indicate the date of cancellation. Canceled invoices for evidence purposes must be kept in the tax records along with other invoices.

However, when an invoice entered into circulation contains incorrect values ​​or data, it cannot be canceled. Then it is necessary to issue a corrective note by the buyer or to issue a corrective invoice by the seller of the goods or services.