Is it Legal to Amend Invoices?

Written by

Shiryn Hagh

What is an invoice?

An invoice is a request for payment. This request will arise after you have supplied goods or services to a customer.

If you are selling goods or services chances are you know what an invoice is. But if you are just starting out, here’s a refresher. The invoice will usually identify the goods or services you have provided. Further, they will detail the amount that the customer owes you in return. Invoices are an important record of purchase, and it is important that it articulates the correct information.

There are different types of invoices. For example, a sale invoice, an interim invoice, or a tax invoice for businesses registered for goods and services tax (GST). The use of these will depend on your business structure or the goods and services you are providing. If you need more information on what invoice suits you and what to include, read more here.

Can you amend an invoice and is it legal?

Generally, it is legal to amend an invoice that is missing information or includes an error.

However, you should never delete an invoice if this happens. It is important for auditing reasons that you hold onto records, even if they are incomplete or incorrect. Not only is proper invoicing important for good records, but it also helps protect your business’ cash flow and meet your tax obligations.

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Changing invoices before they have been issued

If you notice an error in the invoice before it has been issued to your customer, the solution is simple. Just amend it before you send it out and make sure your template and information are accurate. You can easily create an accurate tax invoice with Lawpath in under 10 minutes.

Changing invoices that have already been issued 

If the invoice has already been issued to the customer, amending it will require some different steps. 

If you are a GST-registered business

GST registered business will be sending out tax invoices. If an issued tax invoice is incomplete or incorrect, it is not valid. To ensure its validity, you will need to replace the incomplete or incorrect invoice with a correct version as soon as possible. However, your tax invoice can be treated as valid if missing information can be obtained from other documents previously sent to the customer.

If there is no way of supplementing the missing information, the invoice will remain invalid. The customer may then request a valid invoice, and you will have 28 days from the making of that request to replace the invoice with a valid one. If the invoice is not replaced with an amended, valid version within this time period, the customer may seek the Australian Taxation Office’s permission to treat it as valid. But it is best to amend any mistakes immediately if it comes to your attention or your customer reaches out to you. If the error is related to the GST calculation, it is important that you fix it as soon as possible to avoid penalties for incorrect GST reporting. 

If you are not a GST-registered business 

In the event that you run a business that is not registered for GST, you will be sending out regular invoices that will not include the words ‘tax invoice’ on them. Despite this difference, to amend these types of invoices, you will generally have to do the same thing. Amend and replace as quickly as practicable is the best practice. 

Final thoughts

Despite it not being illegal, it is good practice to be on top of your invoices and ensure there are no errors before sending them out. You can do this by setting up a clear invoice system for your business and using specialised software to improve accuracy and increase efficiency in this process. However, human error is sometimes inevitable. If you need to amend an invoice, replace the initial invoice with the correct one for the customer. 
If you have further questions you should speak to a business lawyer.

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