Federal government endorses national e-invoicing standard

Kelly O'Dwyer

Kelly O'Dwyer supports criminal penalties for serious exploitation. Source: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas.

The federal government has adopted an industry-wide framework for digital invoicing, paving the way for rapid take up of electronic invoicing in government and the creation of a de facto national electronic payment system.

Deloitte Access Economics estimates e-invoicing could result in economy-wide benefits of up to $28 billion over 10 years.

E-invoicing involves the digital transmission of purchasing and payment information between suppliers and customers in a format readable by machines. E-invoices are automatically entered into accounting software, reducing time and errors for both parties. Until recently e-invoicing solutions required both parties to use the same software, prompting lobby groups such as the small business-focused Council of Small Business of Australia to urge the government to develop a single low-cost e-invoicing standard that all businesses can use.

The Australian Tax Office has been working closely with the Digital Business Council and major accounting software suppliers around the development of the agreed standard.

Announcing the move to promote e-invoicing across the federal government, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer said the government had recently completed an implementation study into the benefits for the economy from the Australian government adopting e-invoicing. It made three recommendations:

  • encourage government agencies to adopt e-invoicing at a time that aligns with their business plans and needs;
  • adopt e-invoicing in a way that is consistent with the Digital Business Council’s interoperability framework; and
  • work with the government’s shared and common services program to implement e-invoicing where possible.

Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said e-invoicing supported the government’s broader ambitions to deliver faster and easier-to-use digital services: “If standards for e-invoicing are widely adopted, it will not only be easier for industry to do business with government and other industries, but also cheaper for all parties involved in a transaction.”

Australia and New Zealand have been working to create an agreed standard across Australasia. In March this year prime ministers Turnbull and Ardern agreed that Australia and New Zealand would take practical action around common approaches to e-invoicing.

A trans-Tasman working group has been established to support industry to standardise e-invoicing processes in Australia and New Zealand, and take advantage of opportunities arising from the broader digital transformation of the economy.

The working group includes members from the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the Department of Jobs and Small Business, the Digital Transformation Agency, the Treasury, and the New Zealand government. Representatives from state and territory governments will also be invited to participate.

The working group will consider the most appropriate ways to support industry to maintain the standards in the DBC framework, and how to accredit participants in the e-invoicing network.

This article was first published by The Mandarin.

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