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?
It has been proposed that the requirement should be applicable to any business with bookkeeping obligations. Businesses with less than NOK 5 million in turnover, or fewer than 600 documents a year are exempt from the requirement. However, if these businesses 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.
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?
In a hearing held by the Ministry of Finance, it was proposed that the requirement of being able to provide accounting data in the new format should apply for the accounting period starting on 1 January 2017. Based on the replies given in the hearing, we do not expect SAF-T to become obligatory until 1 January 2018.
Will there be a transitional arrangement for those bookkeeping obligations (see also the rules on cash systems)?
There is no planned transitional arrangement in the same way as for cash systems. If SAF-T does not become obligatory until 2018, there will be a voluntary arrangement in 2017.
Will transactions included in general ledgers registered as of 1 January 2017 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 2017 (or a later date if the requirement of obligatory implementation of SAF-T is put back to 2018)
How will this affect those of us in accountancy firms? What preparations will we have to make in terms of software etc.?
It is the system suppliers who must adapt their accounting systems so that the systems can provide the new standard on demand. 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. Accountancy firms will have to ensure that they are using updated accounting systems.
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. Future versions will cover, at documentation level, invoices and movements of goods. In order to make the format better suited to transferring data between different accounting systems, a number of data elements will also be 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.
Will uploading files to Altinn be a valid method for sending in SAF-T files to the Norwegian 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.