Meaning of Original Invoice

If it gets lost, you look bad – the original invoice . It is not uncommon for the tax office to request the original invoice as proof that you can deduct the input tax. Unfortunately, it is more and more common that companies are unable to provide an original invoice. But there are also solutions for this.

How should an invoice be written?

The sales tax law determines which components you have to show on an invoice . According to ยง14 UstG, the following must be displayed

  • Name and address of the providing entrepreneur
  • Name and address of the customer,
  • Tax number or VAT ID of the company,
  • Date of invoice or issue,
  • Time of delivery or service ,
  • a unique consecutive invoice number ,
  • the invoice amount in net, with tax rate, tax amount and gross amount

You can also voluntarily provide the company’s bank details, contact details, customer number and payment deadline.

The tax number and tax ID are often confused. If you are not aware of the difference, this video will help you.

When an invoice is lost

Even the best bookkeeping systems lose original invoices. There are several reasons for that. Either they accidentally end up in the shredder, are not even issued, are encrypted when moving or for other reasons of this kind. It is of course good if you have scanned them in advance so that they can be stored electronically . This can happen either in the drive, a document management system or in an accounting software.

What happens if an original invoice is missing?

A missing original invoice can lead to problems with the tax office for companies. Due to the missing invoice, it can happen that the operating expenses are not deducted and the profit is higher. That doesn’t sound bad at first. But, that also means that not only is more income tax due than expected, but you also cannot deduct any input tax. As a result, the sales tax payment will also be higher than planned. In addition, you have to pay back any input tax that has already been reimbursed to the tax office.

In the worst case, there is also a fine for formal deficiencies or incorrect bookkeeping. This can be especially the case if receipts or invoices are often missing.

For the buyer, the missing original invoice means that he has no proof of purchase and therefore no guarantee . Thus, he can neither exchange the goods nor carry out a reverse transaction. Reselling without the invoice is difficult. Because many buyers value an original invoice or proof of purchase.

In addition, the statutory guarantee can be transferred to the new buyer . This would not be available without an invoice.

When do bills get lost?

There are also various options here. During the year it often goes unnoticed when an invoice disappears. However, if the tax office conducts a sales tax audit or a company audit, things look different. The auditor wants all documents, so it is noticeable if a document is missing. In this case, he can refuse the input tax deduction .

How can the problems be avoided?

For lost original invoices, the Federal Fiscal Court decided in January 2009 (file number 14 K 2093/08) that you can eliminate the problem by making a copy of the invoice . This means that the company providing the service must issue a copy of the invoice. A personal receipt is also possible, but a note on the file with the course or course of events. You can also provide proof of the account statement and the direct debit . Evidence order forms , order confirmations and other correspondence relating to the purchase can also help .

Although you can avoid possible problems with these solutions, it is still advisable to have a new copy of the invoice issued with the signature and stamp of the company .

If the company no longer exists, it will be difficult for you to get an original copy of the invoice. If this occurs, you must prove that the original invoice was issued by correspondence with the purchase process or by means of a bank statement.

Storage of original invoices

Invoices are subject to certain retention requirements . You have to keep them like this for ten years . It makes no difference whether in paper format or electronically . The original format is important. If invoices are printed on thermal paper, you must also copy them. Both copies, both the original and the copy, are kept. Copying is important as the writing on the thermal paper will fade over time.

On December 31 The statutory retention period begins one year. It ends in the same way on December 31. one year. If an invoice was written on May 2nd, 2006, you have to keep it until December 31st, 2016. The principles for the proper management and storage of books, records and documents in electronic form as well as for data access ( GoBD ) determine exactly how you keep your invoices.


Nowadays, the use of accounting software is commonplace. A big advantage of such software: created receipts and invoices are automatically stored in such a way that they comply with the GoBD. Make sure, however, that it is GoBD-compliant accounting software .

When do I need an invoice?

An invoice is equivalent to a payment claim . A receipt, on the other hand, proves that a claim has been paid. When paying in cash, a receipt is required so that the payment is documented and thus also confirmed. If the payment is made by bank transfer, the account statement is valid as proof of payment.

Receipts and invoices for small amounts have the same legal requirements. In the case of a small invoice, i.e. an invoice under 250 euros , a receipt can replace the invoice. If the amount is over 250 euros , however, you have to have a regular invoice issued, then the receipt is no longer sufficient.

Original Invoice