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How tech is transforming tax: e-invoicing in Saudi Arabia

Deloitte Middle East has led an innovative digitalisation programme to implement a leading national e-invoicing solution in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). It will have a hugely positive impact on the country’s government, businesses and citizens.

As KSA moves away from a predominantly oil-based economy in a bid to generate sustainable economic growth, like most of the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries, it has seen the introduction of VAT and Excise tax in 2017/2018. For KSA, rolling out a national electronic invoicing platform is the next step towards a enhancing a modern and sustainable e-invoicing economy. This will support a digitalised tax and fiscal eco-system.

For our client, Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the ambition was to connect the entire ecosystem, so buyers and suppliers could exchange e-invoices securely.

Benefiting environment and economy

With increased automation reducing paper use, digitalisation is more sustainable. But it also makes transactions more efficient – which improves the user experience, with faster payments and reduced costs. Plus, e-invoicing gives the government better insight on market conditions, enabling fairer competition and improving consumer protection, all in line with international best practices.

Improved security is another factor. This is aided by a QR code on invoices, receipts and credit notes that, once scanned, provides instant verification and speeds up clearance.

“When I first saw the QR code on a coffee receipt, I was so excited – we had supported introducing technology capabilities that empower citizens and the government to easily verify the authenticity of a transaction,” says Tax partner Anbreen Khan, who was involved in the project from the outset.

E-invoicing also means the government can better monitor the movement of goods, services and money, helping to reduce fraud and tax evasion. It can glean real-time insights on national economic performance across sectors, using invoices and VAT owed in a given period as a pulse-check. This then feeds into fiscal strategy.

Consulting partner Jamil Hamati adds, “From an economic and commercial standpoint, e-invoicing makes it easier and much more efficient for everyone to do business in a secure and digitally improved environment. It also allows the government to generate insights that can inform its fiscal strategy. For me what’s important is that our team worked really closely with the technology teams at ZATCA to deliver this national scale project.”

“This is a leading global credential where we implemented a national e-invoicing solution on a national scale in the GCC region and in the public sector.”



Jamil Hamati

Consulting partner, Deloitte Middle East


A global milestone

Implementing a project like this on a national scale called for a range of disciplines, from tax expertise and analytics to business model design, technology and systems design expertise and cyber security. “It was a true global effort,” says Jamil. “We learnt from colleagues across Deloitte, including teams in North and South Europe – specifically Deloitte Central Mediterranean – as well as India, China and South America,” he adds.

For Consulting director, Philip Sinclair, the work pushed technological boundaries. “It has been amazing to implement a platform on a national scale using cutting-edge technology,” he says. “This platform will ultimately handle over five billion transactions a year.”

E-invoicing may have been a first for KSA, but it was an important milestone for Deloitte, too.

“For me, it’s a vision come true,” continues Anbreen. “It’s one of the most important national initiatives, and the most important national project undertaken as a tax authority since the introduction of VAT. That makes the team and me really proud to have been part of this important national infrastructure.”

“With the pandemic, digitalisation is becoming ever more important for all governments around the world, so e-invoicing and real-time reporting is certainly a hot topic. Implementing this in the Middle East has been a privilege.”



Anbreen Khan

Tax partner, Deloitte Middle East




Did you know?

VAT was introduced in KSA in 2018. It rose from five per cent to 15 per cent in July 2020. Excise tax was introduced in 2017 in KSA.

The Gulf Corporation Council consists of KSA, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.