|Monday, 09 August 2010 07:02|
You can use the Internet and email, to legally send invoices to your clients. The purpose of this article is to explain what SA law requires when invoicing your client electronically.
Preparing a tax invoice
- you cannot issue more than one tax invoice for each supply goods or services. Make sure the second tax invoice for the same supply is clearly marked "Copy;"
Electronic tax invoices
The requirement that your tax invoices must be sent in encrypted format (at least 128 bytes), over a secure line or contain an electronic signature provides you with the pull or push options, to either have your client come and get them from you (pull), or you to send them to your client (push). The ‘pull' option envisages you asking your client to come to your website and download the invoice. Typically you could achieve this by sending your client an email (that does not have the invoice attached) asking him/her to click on the link provided in the email and download the invoice. The 128 bit encryption refers to an SSL digital certificate that confirms the identity of website you are on and enables an encrypted session between your computer and the website's server, no different to when you do your internet banking. You can get a SSL digital certificate from a certification authority such as L@Wtrust (www.lawtrust.co.za).
The ‘push' option envisages using an electronic signature. This is not an electronic image of your hand-written signature, but an electronic signature as provided for in the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002 (Act 25 of 2002) ("the ECT Act"). SARS do not say advanced electronic signature must be used, only an electronic signature. This requirement is met under section 13 of the ECT Act which provides the requirement for an electronic signature is met in relation to a data message (e.g. email) if a method is used to identify the person and to indicate the person's approval of the information communicated; and having regard to all the relevant circumstances at the time the method was used, the method was as reliable as was appropriate for the purposes for which the information was communicated.
Using a personal digital certificate (as opposed to a SSL digital certificate) issued by L@Wtrust (www.lawtrust.co.za) will also serve this purpose. This is how:
Your accounting package software vendor should be able to assist you further is getting the above set up. You could even save on costs of sending hardcopy invoices (printing, postage etc): Remember, you cannot issue more than one tax invoice for each supply goods or services - therefore, a suggestion could be to get your clients, when they agree to receiving invoices electronically, to further agree to receiving the original invoice electronically as well and to provide you with an email address to use. Then you can update your systems to provide that a hardcopy invoice no longer needs to be sent to the client concerned. Only send hardcopies to those clients who still insist on receiving hardcopies, but remember this hardcopy will be the second tax invoice for the same supply and you'll need to ensure it is clearly marked "Copy."