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The small amount invoice - requirements, mandatory information, pitfalls

Dorothea Heymann-Reder August 08, 2017 33043 views

What is a small amount invoice?

A small amount invoice is - surprise! - an invoice for a small amount. The maximum limit was recently set from 150 to 250 euros gross. It has been in effect since January 1, 2017; The deadline is the date on which the invoice is issued. Invoices for small amounts are “easier” than invoices for larger amounts. This simplification consists in the fact that they need to contain less legal information. The legal basis is § 33 UStDV. However, simplified invoicing for small amounts is not a must. Every entrepreneur is free to write ordinary invoices, even for small amounts, that contain all statutory invoice components.

From gross to net

As already said, a small amount invoice is a maximum of 250 euros gross. But what does that mean for the net amount and VAT? You can read off the respective maximum amounts from the following table:
Gross (euro)tax rateNet (euro)Tax amount (euros)
250,0019 %210,0839,92
250,007 %233,6416,36
By the way, you can also issue “mixed” invoices on which part of the sales is subject to the full sales tax rate of 19 percent and the other part to the reduced sales tax of 7 percent. The main thing is that the gross final amount of the small amount invoice is less than or equal to 250.00 euros.

Requirements for the small amount invoice

Basically, a small value invoice is an invoice like any other. There are no special rules for them, only simplifications. They do not have to contain all invoice features. This makes work easier for the biller.

Necessary information

The following information is mandatory on a small amount invoice:
  • Full name and address of the biller
  • Invoicing date
  • Type and scope of the service provided or items supplied
  • Gross price / fee including VAT
  • VAT rate; alternatively reference to the tax exemption (small business owners)
It is imperative that VAT is given as a percentage. The note "including the statutory value added tax" or similar is not sufficient. If you are a small business owner according to § 19 UStG, do not provide any information about VAT.

Watch out, trap

One can only advise billers to provide all invoices up to the 250 euro limit with the absolute mandatory information for small amount invoices (see § 33 UStDV). An empty recipient field means that the recipient will not have any problems with the input tax deduction. However, if you name a recipient, incorrect or incorrect information can prevent input tax deduction. The tax authorities justify this with the fact that the invoice does not comply with the provisions for small-value invoices. In spite of everything, some invoices still have to contain more detailed information. The classic example is the hospitality bill. Of course, the occasion of the hospitality as well as the guests have to be noted on it.

Meaning of the small amount regulation

The small amount regulation makes it easier to deduct input tax in many everyday transactions. According to the Value Added Tax Act, a recipient of goods or services usually has to present an invoice to the tax office that contains all of the statutory invoice components in order to be able to claim the sales tax. However, sales tax from a small amount invoice can also be deducted if no service recipient is specified and the sales tax is not shown separately. This is much less bureaucratic and easier for the issuer and recipient of the invoice.

Exceptions

Foreign transactions are excluded from the small amount invoice, even if they do not exceed the gross limit of 250 euros. This includes

The trick with the scan

Invoices must be archived for a retention period of ten years. Have you ever tried to decipher a fax on thermal paper after a few months of "idle time"? Or a receipt printed in poor ink? Such documents become illegible faster than the tax office would like. Therefore, you should always scan or photograph every paper receipt upon receipt. Such receipt images can be uploaded to modern accounting programs and safely stored in a document management system (DMS). Some of these useful apps can even automatically recognize the receipt images. This means that you can find the receipts more quickly and your tax advisor can automatically transfer the information to his accounting department.

Conclusion

A small amount invoice is an invoice for a maximum of 250 euros gross. It has to contain less information than an ordinary invoice. In particular, no invoice recipient needs to be specified. This makes invoicing easier for the supplier and the input tax deduction for the customer. The small amount regulation does not apply to cross-border transactions.

Dorothea Heymann-Reder

Dorothea Heymann-Reder writes blog posts, advice articles and white papers. Her specialist articles deal with commercial and business issues as well as the entire spectrum of digitization.

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