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Using XBRL to Submit Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statement Electronically in Germany

We are already close to year end and this most of the time is the period with a lot of changes in law / tax.

I would like to inform you that there is an upcoming legal requirement for Germany.

The new law (in Germany) is about submitting the annual statements (like balance sheet and profit & loss etc.) electronically. This is called eBillanz in German. For this electronic submission, the government decided to use XBRL technology. The first intention from authorities was to make this mandatory for years which start after 31.12.2010. But this has been changed now.

There has been a decision that the new requirement will be delayed for one year. This means the first year to be reported electronically now is the year that starts after 31.12.2011. Nevertheless companies already can use the electronic submission as the time until the requirements starts is being seen as test period.

The German government decided to have a direct submission from the ERP-Systems or any other bookkeeping systems to their server (similar to ELSTER). So far, no alternate solution like uploading the XBRL XML file on the ELSTER Portal is being considered. 

The creators of the taxonomy have introduced yet another change: instead of declaring name spaces in the header of the XML document, they have chosen to also declare name spaces in sub-nodes. This is of course legal XML and hence we cannot complain. It would be super to have the XBRL community agree on similar (future) patterns.

From our perspective we have this requirement on our radar and currently we are investigating the possible solutions. Next to Germany, there is also UK and Estonia with such a requirement. UK will use iXBRL and will start by the 1st of April, 2011.

We are interested in getting more information about the current process, what and how companies are doing today to submit the annual statement to the tax authorities, and especially, which tool they use to submit the reports to the authorities, i.e. German Bundesanzeiger.

Ivan Koletic

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