Switzerland has strict e-invoicing rules. However, thanks to the principle of free consideration of evidence of art. 81 (3) of the Swiss VAT Law, the strict e-invoicing rules which require that all VAT relevant e-invoices are digitally signed by one of the four Swiss admitted digital signature providers can be met with other methods of comparable quality.
Although the strict rules in the e-invoicing legislation remain a safe harbour rule, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration ("SFTA") has moved closer to the general EU rules recently and has approved different ways of accepting e-invoices.
As with hard copy invoices, the SFTA requires that the integrity and authenticity of the e-invoices are assured. Whenever the safe harbour rule for e-invoices with compliant advanced digital signature is not followed, tax payers can prove integrity and authenticity of e-invoices via other documents of the procure-to-pay process, such as underlying contracts, order sheets, bill of delivery, booking records, payments etc. and companies should establish an internal control system that allows a constant and reliable audit trail between procurement process, e-invoice and payment.
The internal control system should prove authenticity and integrity of e-invoice data on a permanent basis. Once the internal control system on procure-to-pay shall replace safe harbour conditions as a standard, businesses are best recommended to thoroughly establish a new procure-to-pay internal control process which is regularly audited.
In order to establish a sophisticated internal control system that provides a similar quality as the safe harbour rules, businesses can seek discussion with SFTA and work towards a review and confirmation of their procure-to-pay internal control process.
In conclusion, it is good to know that the SFTA arrived in the modern age of e-business and offers alternatives to the often impractical strict digital signing on e-invoices.