Do you issue pro-forma invoices? Be careful, they can be handled just like regular invoices!


2014 is a time of great revolutions in the field of VAT. The most important modifications that have appeared since January include, among others changes in the deadlines for issuing invoices and those relating to the moment when the tax obligation arises. Certainly noteworthy is the introduction of the definition of an invoice and an electronic invoice. However, the implementation of new concepts to the VAT Act causes many interpretation ambiguities.

The first statutory definition of an invoice

An explanation of what an invoice is can now be found in Art. 2 point 31 of the Act on tax on goods and services. According to its content, an invoice shall be understood as a document in paper or electronic form, containing the data required by the law and regulations issued on its basis.

On the other hand, an electronic invoice is an invoice in electronic form, issued and received in any electronic format.

What data on the invoice?

The basic data to be included in the sales invoice by the taxpayer are set out in Art. 106e paragraph. 1 point 1-15 of the Act. These are:

  1. date of issue;
  2. sequential number from one or more series that uniquely identifies the invoice;
  3. the first and last names or names of the taxpayer and the buyer of the goods or services and their addresses;
  4. the number by which the taxpayer is identified for tax purposes, subject to point 24 (a). and;
  5. the number by which the buyer of goods or services is identified for the purposes of tax or value added tax under which he received the goods or services, subject to point 24 (a). b;
  6. the date of the delivery or completion of the delivery of goods or the performance of the service or the date of receipt of the payment referred to in art. 106b paragraph. 1 point 4, if such date is specified and differs from the invoice issue date;
  7. name (type) of goods or services;
  8. measure and quantity (number) of delivered goods or scope of services rendered;
  9. unit price of a good or service without the tax amount (net unit price);
  10. the amount of any price rebates or reductions, including in the form of an early payment rebate, provided that they are not included in the net unit price;
  11. value of the goods delivered or services performed, covered by the transaction, excluding the tax amount (net sales value);
  12. tax rate;
  13. the sum of the net sales value, with the division into sales subject to individual tax rates and sales exempt from tax;
  14. the amount of tax on the sum of the net sales value, broken down into amounts related to individual tax rates;
  15. total amount due.

The following points of this paragraph also specify the data that should be included in the invoices, however, they refer to specific transactions.

Pro forma invoice - what exactly is it?

A pro forma invoice is an order and is generally not considered an accounting voucher. Until the end of 2013, it did not have any tax consequences in terms of VAT. At that time, black clouds gathered around the proforms. It turned out that there is a high probability that the order will be considered an invoice with full consequences, in particular on the part of the issuer. The media noise forced the intervention of the Minister of Finance, who explained that the pro forma is not an invoice, but only a commercial offer, and there is no risk of it being considered an invoice.

However, since 2014, when the invoicing regulations were transferred directly to the VAT Act and the definition of an invoice also appeared, doubts returned. Importantly, the minister will not be able to clarify the definition of an invoice contained in Art. 2 clause 31 of the Act. Until now, this possibility was available under the issued own regulations.

Therefore, entrepreneurs should be careful and pay special attention to what data they place on the issued pro forma invoices. It may turn out that this document has all the necessary elements to be considered a fully valuable invoice, with all the consequences, i.e. the need to pay tax.