Nothing standard about SAF-T | Vertex Exchange Europe 2018

Danny Vermeiren discusses how to deal with the increasingly misleadingly named Standard Audit File for Tax


Tax technology provider Vertex hosted a two day conference in April 2018, bringing their experts in tax and technology together with their partners and clients. European CEO joined them to learn about the tax compliance challenges that multinational businesses are facing, and the trends in technology and automation that are helping them manage. In this video, VAT Director Danny Vermeiren bemoans the lack of standardisation in different countries’ implementations of the OECD’s Standard Audit File for Tax – and explains how Vertex’s data management platform makes complying with all the different standards simple and efficient.

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Danny Vermeiren: SAF-T: another one of those buzzwords on the market. It’s the Standard Audit File for Tax. It’s a concept that I think in 2005 the OECD came out with the first time.

It’s a defined list of data elements that the OECD put together that were designed to be a data set sufficient for authorities to validate your tax position; to basically e-audit you.

So the idea is that you have a standard that you can use to complete, and then deliver to the government in an electronic format for the governments to be able to easily check your tax position.

Now, in 2005 there was very little uptake of this actual standard, because as you know, the OECD provides guidelines, but it is not law. And we have seen very little uptake in the initial years, which was really surprising. Then in 2010 I believe, the OECD came out with a version two, and then all of a sudden after one country, another one, now already we’ve seen there is a serious handful of countries that have implemented the SAF-T requirements, and we’re really expecting to see that trend continue, and more and more countries implementing a version of the standard audit file for tax.

As always, whenever a standard is presented, it would be so good if countries would stick to that standard. The reality though is that what we’ve seen is that very few countries have implemented actually have used the OECD template. Most countries that did have come up with their version of the truth, thus again making it for companies not that easy to deal with all of the countries.

And this again gives Vertex the opportunity to help tax departments tackle the element of non-standardisation in the whole SAF-T arena. So Vertex’s data management platform allows you to easily bring in the data, tax-sensitise them if it needs to happen, unify the data if you have multiple sources; but from that platform it is fairly easy to produce the various SAF-T templates. So we will deliver those templates, so you can bring in your data once, and now complete all of the various SAF-Ts, because they are simply different views of the data you already have on your platform.