The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that Member States must accept, as formally submitted, VAT refund requests that contain invoice identifiers other than sequential invoice numbers.

In case C-346/19 (Judgment of 17 December 2020), an Austrian taxpayer’s VAT Refund application was rejected by Germany’s Federal Central Tax Office, on the grounds that the “invoice numbers” listed on the application form were reference numbers rather than sequential invoice numbers.

The Austrian taxpayer challenged the notice, but the tax office ruled that the reference numbers didn’t comply with legal requirements and that the taxpayer had therefore failed to formally submit a valid refund request within the statutory time period allowed.

On Jan 14, 2021, the ECJ issued the Order in the case C-108/19 (Krakvet sp. z o.o. sp.k.). This case is about the place of supply of B2C supply of goods (E-Commerce) in case the supplier does not arrange the transport.

 

Facts

Unofficial translation/summary:

  • Krakvet is a company established in Poland, which markets feed and accessories for animal husbandry through websites.
  • The activities of that company target customers in several Member States and, for that purpose, it maintains a ‘zoofast’ domain on the Internet for each of those Member States. In particular, sales of products to customers located in Romania are made through the website, the home page of which is www.zoofast.ro.
  • The terms of delivery of products ordered from Krakvet on the Internet are those corresponding, among the international trade clauses established by the International Chamber of Commerce, to the “Ex Works” clause, on departure from Wieliczka (Poland ).
  • With regard to the sales process, buyers place an order on the site www.zoofast.ro. To finalize it on this website, they must choose between two methods of withdrawing the products from the Krakvet warehouse located in Poland. They can choose to withdraw these products themselves from this warehouse or to conclude a contract for the purpose of the transport of these either with Sendfast sp. z oo, or with another carrier. In this case, the invoice relating to the transport services is sent directly by one or other of these companies to these purchasers, who pay it directly to them.
  • When the order is finalized, the buyers receive two contracts, one concluded with Krakvet for the products purchased and the other concluded, for the purpose of the delivery of these products, either with Sendfast or with another carrier, as well as two invoices, one, established by Krakvet for the purchase of the products, the other, established for the transport services by the company supporting this delivery, each invoice being accompanied by a proof of payment.
  • In addition, the products can be paid by bank transfer, on the Krakvet website, or in cash, upon receipt.

Decision

Article 33 of Council Directive 2006/112 / EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax must be interpreted as meaning that, in the case of goods sold by means of a website by a supplier established in one Member State to buyers located in another Member State, when, for the purpose of the delivery of these goods, these buyers, in accordance with the shipping options offered by this supplier, choose a company suggested through this site with which they conclude a contract distinct from that binding them to said supplier for the purchase of said goods, the latter must be considered as being transported “by the supplier or on his behalf”, within the meaning of this article 33, when the role of the same supplier is paramount as regards the initiative and the organization of the essential stages of the transport of the same goods, which is for the referring court to verify, taking into account all the relevant circumstances of the main dispute.

 

Argumentation of the Court

  • In the event that the goods are dispatched or transported either by the supplier, or by the purchaser, or by a third person, the place of the delivery is deemed to be at the place where the good is at the time of the departure of the shipment or of the transport to the purchaser.
  • However, the place of delivery of goods dispatched or transported, by the supplier or on his behalf, from a Member State other than that of arrival of the shipment or transport is deemed to be at the place where the goods are at the time of arrival of the shipment.
  • In order to determine what is to be understood by a shipment or transport effected ‘by the supplier or on his behalf’ it should be recalled that taking into account the economic and commercial reality constitutes a fundamental criterion for the application of the common system of VAT

The new Slovak VAT Act will bring in changes to the Value Added Tax regime in 2016. The changes include:

  1. Basic foodstuffs are lowered to the 10% reduced VAT rate
  2. The introduction of the domestic reverse charge for supplies in the construction industry
  3. Cash-based VAT remittance for supplies to delay paying output VAT due until they receive the VAT from their customer. In return, the customer may not recover the VAT till they have paid their supplier if they are using this regime.
  4. The introduction of the reverse charge for non-resident VAT registered companies on domestic supplies
  5. Increases in penalty regime
  6. The right to recover VAT suffered on goods or services prior to VAT registration in certain circumstances

The EU VAT Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006has been updated from 1 January 2019 to introduce a voluntary generalised reverse charge measure on domestic transactions in member states.

The measure will help states combat VAT fraud by requiring B2B customers to account for sales VAT, as well as input VAT, on domestic supplies. This would remove the cash payment from the transaction. This does mean that it disrupts one of the key principles of the EU VAT regime: the fractional cash payment of VAT through the production chain.

The domestic reverse charge has been successfully applied in a narrow number of sectors prone to ‘missing trader’ and ‘carousel’ VAT fraud, including: computer chips; mobile phones; laptops; precious metals; carbon credits; wholesale energy; and crops.

Member states must first seek approval from the European Commission prior to introducing the measure. It will only apply to transactions above €17,500. The measure is only currently scheduled to be available until June 2022, after which the member states will evaluate the effects.

VAT is applied to all transactions carried out in the EU for payment by a taxable person, i.e. any individual or body that supplies goods and services in the course of business. Imports by any person are also subject to VAT. It covers supplies of goods or services within the EU, intra-EU acquisitions of goods (goods supplied and dispatched or transported by a business in one EU country to a business in another) and imports of goods into the EU from outside. 

A taxable person has the right to deduct the amount of VAT paid on acquired goods or services in the EU country where these transactions are carried out. This input VAT can be deducted from VAT payable on taxed transactions, e.g. domestic supplies of goods or services. There is in general no right to deduct in the case of an economic activity that is exempt from VAT, or if the taxable person applies certain special schemes. In certain cases, deductions may be limited or adjusted.

For more information about VAT registration and compliance, please visit Registration for VAT in European Union (EU VAT Registration).

Italy is to press ahead with a reduction in the VAT rate on e-books, online newspapers or journals from 22% to 4% on 1 January 2016.

The reclassification will be in contravention of the European Court of Justice March 2015 ruling that e-books should be taxed at member states’ standard, higher VAT rate even if printed books are at a reduced rate. This was based on the rule that countries may only apply reduced rates on the exhaustive list of goods or services provided in Annex III of the EU VAT Directive. At the time of the completion of the VAT Directive, electronic books had not been developed.

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