EC warns Greece over invoices

BRUSSELS – Greek tax authorities’ insistence on requiring printed copies of other EU states’ electronic invoices could send the country to court, the European Commission warned this week. In order to simplify business transactions, the EU has ruled that invoices issued in one country should allow clients in another to have the relevant value-added tax (VAT) returned. It has also instructed that these invoices be issued and stored electronically to cut the costs of invoicing. However, Greece insists that such invoices be printed paper, translating them into Greek and recalculating all amounts shown into euros. Predictably, the Commission has sent Athens a reasoned opinion, the last stage before reference to the European Court unless Greece changes its legislation by end-September. Brussels has also presented its conclusive list of activities which until the end of 2009 can enjoy reduced VAT (9 percent). This list is drafted following a demand by each member state and, at least in Greece’s case, it includes certain activities that have little history of attributing VAT to the state: They are bicycle, shoe and clothing repairs, painting and other works for house maintenance (not including the materials that are fully taxed) as well expenses for care of the elderly at home.