What is Standard Audit File-Tax (SAF-T)?
SAF-T is a standard format for the exchange of accounting data. The standard is the result of a joint development collaboration between the business communicty, the accounting sector and the Norwegian Tax Administration, based on a recommendation by the OECD. The standard specifies what accounting data is to be exchanged, and also the structure of the data.
What are the advantages of SAF-T?
For businesses with bookkeeping obligations, it will be easier to submit accounting records to public authorities. It will also be easier to perform internal audits in companies, analyse data in specialised systems and share data with others. In addition, it will be easy to change accounting system and to integrate different systems. For the Norwegian Tax Administration, the new way of collecting accounting data means more efficient audits and shorter case-handling times as a consequence of automation and fewer manual processes
Who will have to be able to produce accounting data in the SAF-T format?
The requirement will be applicable to any enterprise with bookkeeping obligations who use electronical accounting systems. Enterprises with less than NOK 5 million in turnover are exempt from the requirement. However, if these enterprises have bookkeping information that are electronically available, the requirement will apply to them. It is the system suppliers who must adapt their accounting systems so that the systems can provide the new standard on demand. Enterprises with a bookkeeping obligation who have fewer than 600 vouchers a year, and hold their accounts in a text editor or spreadsheet programs are not included in the requirement, because these systems are counted as manual solutions and not an electronical accounting system, ref. NBS 6 section 4.
Will SAF-T replace the tax return reporting?
No, accounting information in this format does not replace tax return reporting, but must be made available to the tax office in connection with a tax audit on request by a tax auditor.
When will the standard be introduced?
The regulation comes into force the first period with financial reporting starting 1. januar 2020 or later. Until then the use of the SAF-T scheme will be voluntary.
Will there be a transitional arrangement for those bookkeeping obligations (see also the rules on cash systems)?
There is no transitional arrangement in the same way as for cash systems.
Will transactions included in general ledgers registered as of 1 January 2020 have to be reported, or will we have to be able to generate SAF-T for transactions registered before this date?
There is no requirement to show transactions retrospectively. The accounting systems will most likely be able to generate SAF-T files for earlier periods if these are in the same database and in the same format as transactions after 1 January 2020.
How will this affect those of us in accountancy firms? What preparations will we have to make in terms of software etc.?
If the accounting system is supposed to be used to produce SAF-T files, this is something the system developers have to manage in the development of their accounting systems. Norwegian suppliers of accounting systems have been involved in a dialogue since autumn 2015, and some of them were also involved in developing the standard itself.
However, there may occur divergent use of accounts or vat codes, which results is an obligation for the accountant or the enterprise with a bookkeeping obligation to ensure that the mapping is complete.
What is in the first version of the standard?
The first version of the standard was ready in March 2016 and it is published on skatteetaten.no. The first version is limited to account specification (general ledger), and supplier and customer specification (subsidiary ledger). Required fixed data is also included.
Will all companies (incl. banks) be required to use the SAFT format?
As long as a business has bookkeeping information in an electronic format, it will be required to show recorded information in SAF-T format. This means that banks are required to use the format in the same way as other businesses that are required to keep accounts. Public sector companies are also subject to this requirement if they have bookkeeping obligations.
How shall the SAF-T files be transmitted to The Tax Administration?
Uploading via Altinn will be the main method for sending in SAF-T files. If you have large files over 200 MB (up to 2 GB in zip-files) you may contact the relevant case handler in the Norwegian Tax Administration.
Will testing be available to system suppliers?
Yes, as of September 2016, system suppliers were given the opportunity to test their solutions. The Norwegian Tax Administration recommends that all system suppliers perform testing.