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France: VAT fraud rules allow free and open source

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The French government has clarified its new rules on combatting VAT fraud to allow the continued use of free and open source software. In June, the Ministry of Public Action and Accounts confirms that the scope of the policy will be limited to cash systems and cash systems software. The update follows meetings with the April advocacy group, which worried that the rules could block the use of VAT systems based on free and open source software.

Two years ago, the French government decided on new rules for VAT administration, to go into effect in 2018. By placing strict requirements on cash systems and bookkeeping software, the government aimed to prevent tampering with VAT records.

In its clarification on this policy the government explicitly recognises free software solutions, says a spokesperson for the April free software advocacy group, adding that “this was a big step forward.”

There still remain a few ambiguities, dealing with software configuration and attesting the software’s conformity with the new obligations. April will soon meet with the ministry to resolve this.

In a statement published in June, the Ministry confirmed that the rules will be updated to limit their scope to cash systems. “Redefinition of the scope of the obligations allows a reduction in complexity, without diminishing their effectiveness in the fight against fraud”, the Ministry writes.

One example of a French free software cash registry system is Pastèque. This solution is being developed in Lille by a community of accounting professionals, traders and sellers,

More information:

April statement on the 2018 VAT rules (in French)
Linuxfr.org discussion (in French)