SAF-T RO a short history of harmonizing accounting reporting

SAF-T is an information statement, comparable in level of complexity to annual financial statements. Based on the OECD reporting standard https://www.oecd.org, it is part of the reporting transparency package, and is already operational in several Member States: Austria, France, Lithuania, Portugal, Poland and Luxembourg.

To put this report in context, we remind you that with the launch of the single market and the single currency in the Community in the period 1990-1999, the EU has made considerable efforts to harmonize financial-accounting legislation. The aim was to create common reporting standards that would allow both national and European structures to compare data reported by Member States. These, guided by Directive IV https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/RO/ALL/?uri=celex:32013L0034 harmonized financial reporting legislation and in 2005 began implementing SAF-T. The first country to implement this reporting system is Austria, where reporting has been operational since 2009.

Romania, member of the EU since 2007, seems to have a delay on harmonising its financial-accounting legislation compared to the rest of the member states, except Bulgaria. This delay is also due to the fact that financial legislation was adopted only after EU accession in 2007 as in the pre-accession phase the harmonisation effort has been minimal. While there are many areas where European national legislation is not yet in line with EU law, including tax issues, we consider that at least this reporting objective has been met by adopting OMFP 1802/2014 – for the approval of the Accounting Regulations regarding the individual annual financial statements and the consolidated annual financial statements.

In this context where the reported data have a very high degree of harmonisation, the focus of the OECD remains the transfer price and trans-national economic control. Knowing this history, the adoption of the SAF-T is proving to be exactly the tool that allows both the EU and the Member States to ensure a much more complex and frequent control of the data reported by economic operators. We note that the adoption of SAF-T reporting requires a high level of transparency from the Member States from the outset.

Reporting will be mandatory in Romania from January 2022 for all large companies, the deadlines for SMEs not yet set. Major software manufacturers and implementers are already technically prepared for SAF-T, based on European experiences.

Technically, SAF-T involves collecting data from the General Ledger and reporting them in a formal * xml, according to the structure proposed by ANAF here: https://static.anaf.ro/static/10/Anaf/Informatii_R/ANEXA_1_v7_101121.pdf. In order to clarify a question repeated in the online environment, the file does not require the attachment of supporting documents, the reporting being done exclusively at the level of accounting record. Analyzing in detail the structure proposed by ANAF, it is understood that the reporting through SAF-T involves in fact the transmission in a compressed format of all accounting records made by the economic agent.

The use of this file by ANAF, the tax authorities of the member countries, the EU structures will allow to increase the number of fiscal controls and to increase the compliance in general. Until the use of SAF-T, the tax verification automatically involved going to the taxpayer’s headquarters and verifying the company’s supporting documents and / or cross-checking with other information from the companies with which the transactions took place.

We are thus waiting for a transformation of the tax inspection after the implementation of SAF-T. The expectation is that the current tax audit will have to be significantly reduced, as SAF-T will allow for complex data crossovers, much larger verified data volumes and incomparably superior automatic checks to existing checks.