Costa Rican mandatory e-invoicing project restarts from scratch after failing pilot

After five years of trial and error to mandate the use of electronic invoicing in Costa Rica, the e-invoicing project will start again from scratch. The pilot project implemented by the Directorate General of Taxation in 2013 will cease to be effective as of now, as will the software and systems that were purchased for its deployment last year.

The Ministry of Finance has decided to discard the work done by the previous administration and start a new project for mandatory electronic signatures from scratch. The new proposal includes the creation of a system that enables capture, process and control of invoice information.

Fernando Rodríguez, Deputy Minister of Revenue at the Directorate General of Taxation (DGT), noted that “… The new proposal includes the creation of a system which allows the gathering, processing and control of information. ‘Making the use of this type of invoicing mandatory, without approving a system with these characteristics would make no sense.’ ”

The main feature of the new system mentioned by Rodriguez is that it will ensure the processing of information making data capture effective … In order to achieve this approaches have been made to Radiographic Costarricense (ICE), with the aim that this institution would deal with the technical aspect of the system. Rodriguez said … ‘We believe the best thing is to hire a state enterprise.’ ”

Although a specific date has not yet been set for the launch, the Deputy expected to be ready by the end of 2014.

An e-invoicing pilot project with no happy ending

The use of electronic invoicing in Costa Rica was adopted in 2007 and its regulated and voluntary use began in 2009.Laura Chinchilla Miranda The government announced on several occasions that their binding would take place in the second half of 2013.

What happened along the way? The Directorate General of Taxation created his own software and announced its pilot plan in early 2013.However, the pilot required the voluntary participation of users, and not carried out in full.And they were areas for improvement.

Subsequently, the DGT extended unsuccessfully date to early 2014. German Morales, tax partner at Deloitte, said that one of the main weaknesses of the pilot proposal was to establish a single computer system. “What the Treasury had to do was set some requirements of computer systems, and allow them to use the best suitable one for the taxpayer,” he said.

Alicia Avendaño, director of Digital Government, said that the biggest mistake was to promote the initiative as a project with the relevance to the tax authorities, but with no specific benefits to taxpayers.

In this sense, his recommendation is that the Ministry of Finance sees it as a strategic project and define a model, taking into account successes and mistakes of other countries in the region, such as Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru.

“We need to define a strategy for the mass use of electronic invoicing, which is based on a gradual obligation, to eliminate intermediate modalities including billing or tax incentives for those who bill electronically,” Avendaño recommended.

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