All posts by Andras Salanki

Finland – Supreme Administrative Court decision on the VAT treatment of non-printed books after the ECJ decision (K Oy – C-219/13)

2015 seems to start with book related VAT news in the EU. After the ECJ’s judgment in the K Oy case (C-219/13) which we previously discussed, the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court (“SAC”) delivered its ruling at the end of December. The SAC held that the standard Finnish VAT rate (currently 24%) applies to books on other physical means of support such as a CD, CD-ROM or memory stick.The ECJ left it to the national courts to decide whether fiscal neutrality (i.e. the same VAT treatment) is applicable to printed books and books published on other physical means. Even though the ECJ judgment also appreciated that this can also be impacted by the level of penetration of new technologies in the various EU Member States.

The SAC followed the argumentation of the ECJ and held that books on other physical means of support are not similar to printed books. According to the Finnish court the other physical means do not satisfy the same needs of the average consumer and therefore they cannot be subject to the reduced VAT rate. The SAC argues that books on physical means of support have a closer link to e-books downloadable from the internet, to which reduced VAT rates cannot be applied based on the EU legislation. As a result the SAC concluded that the different VAT treatment of printed books and books on other physical means of support does not offend the principle of fiscal neutrality.

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Italy – reduced VAT rate of 4% on e-books from 1 January 2015

The Italian Parliament passed the 2015 Finance Law on 22 December, which applies the 4% VAT rate to e-books as of 1 January 2015. According to the legislation any publication that is identified by an ISBN code (International Standard Book Number) and transmitted through any physical or electronic means, should be considered as a book and as a result subject to the 4% reduced VAT rate.

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Bitcoin – the rise of virtual currencies and their VAT implications

In the last couple of years virtual currencies become more popular. Recently we can see that more and also well established businesses are accepting this as payment method every day, e.g. Dell, Overstock.com or Expedia – just to name a few completely different businesses. We already posted some updates on virtual currencies (here, here , here and here). In this update we focus on bitcoin, being one of the most widely known virtual currency and the VAT questions it has already triggered.
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Czech Republic – introduction of reduced VAT rate from 1 January 2015

The Czech Republic is going to introduce a new VAT rate into its VAT legislation with effect from 1 January 2015.

On 6 November, the president of the Czech Republic signed the amendment to the current VAT law introducing a VAT rate of 10% from 1 January 2015. As a result of this, the Czech VAT law will have two reduced VAT rates.
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Czech Virtual Currency – Another Distribution step

The Czech virtual currency, Czech Crown Coin (officially named by the authors “CZC”) which started the distribution of the pre-mined CZC in August 2014, is distributing a next set of 100,000 CZC to the first 1,000 EU based individuals who have registered and obtained the so called “myID” via the official website of CZC. This should increase the amount of CZC in the circulation as well as to support its usage and importance on the global level.

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France – B2C 2015 VAT chages – free event in Paris – 3 November 2014

The French tax authorities together with the Enterprise Europe Network Paris Ile-de-France Centre and the European Commission will held a free of charge conference in Paris on 3 November 2014 to provide guidance on the new EU rules which will apply from 1 January 2015 regarding the B2C supply of telecommunication services, television and radio broadcasting, and electronically supplied services.

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Hungary – Creative taxation: Internet Tax proposed

Earlier this week the Hungarian government submitted its proposed tax bill for 2015. One of the most interesting changes is the proposed introduction of the “Internet tax” that will be imposed on Internet service providers at a rate of HUF 150 (approx. USD 0.60) for every gigabyte of data or part thereof. By way of example, downloading a movie in HD quality (8.5 GB) would attract a tax charge of approx. USD 5 or the download of a 6GB game would have an additional cost of approx. USD 4 according to the original version of the proposal. You may expect that providers will try to recharge this cost to their customers, which makes surfing even more expensive.

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Japan – Legislation proposed for new Japanese consumption tax (JCT) on cross-border service transactions

Current Rules

Japan’s current JCT regime was established in 1989 – before the rise of the digital economy. Accordingly, the taxation of B2C supply of eservices by non-established companies to Japanese customers was not considered and currently these are not subject to JCT.

This provides an unfair advantage to non-established eservice providers compared to Japanese businesses in this field, which has become more apparent since the JCT rate increased form 5% to 8%, with another increase to 10% estimated from 1 October 2015.

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Czech virtual currency update

The new Czech virtual currency, Czech Crown Coin (officially named by the authors “CZC”) was for the first time offered to the public this week (Tuesday, 19th August) at noon, as part of a press conference held by its founders. The interest of the public in purchasing CZC was bigger than expected. The pre-mined amount released in the initial edition of 100,000 CZC was sold out within nine and half hours, whereby a third of this limited amount was sold already within the first hour! It is planned that within the next days, an additional set of 100,000 CZC will be offered to the public. After these ten days (on Friday, 29 August) an exchange platform will be opened on the official website of CZC.

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