VAT return paper submission in Switzerland comes to an end – are you prepared?

Abolishment of paper submission of VAT returns has been openly discussed for the last few months. The SFTA recently confirmed the introduction of e-submission on a mandatory basis. No final termination date has been communicated yet, however, we expect that tax payers will face some administrative burden when preparing for the transition. Authors: Silke Hildebrandt-Stürmer, Romy Müller, Melanie Dittli
Businessman using laptop
Introduced in 2016, the so-called e-filing portal “ESTV SuisseTax” is being used by over 100’000 tax payers already. Especially foreign companies decided to register as the filing process can be made more effective. In particular e-submission process does not involve physical signatures any more. “E-filing” as it is set up currently with ESTV SuisseTax stands for an electronic submission of the Swiss VAT return figures through the online platform. Thus, currently the filing does not require a certain certificate and / or software to be installed by the tax payer or its compliance service provider. Only the following steps need to be taken:
1. Register on ESTV SuisseTax
2. Create a user account
3. Define and allocate access rights, i. e. “preparer”, “approver” and “super-user”
4. Have a telephone device with SMS function for login purposes available.

Once the super-user has created its user account, a power of attorney (“PoA”) form will be generated and sent within 2 – 3 weeks to the registered mail address. After the SFTA has received the legally binding signed physical PoA the tax payers’ account will be activated. It is worth mentioning that – so far – ESTV SuisseTax is not yet available in English as only official native languages such as German, French and Italian are supported.

As the recently announced retirement of paper filing replaced by the above described e-filing seems not to require a certain software / interface on the end of the tax payer it is important to remember that already last year the SFTA has announced to implement XML-submission on the short run and even machine-to-machine based filing on the long run. These e-filing solution will require the tax payer to set up its ERP environment properly and re-shape the compliance process to get ready for e-filing, e-audits and e-assessments.

The announcement of the termination of paper submission must be seen as the first step of a journey that the SFTA has started and that will speed up over the next 12 months rapidly.