All posts by Sophie Claessens

About Sophie Claessens

Senior Tax Manager PricewaterhouseCoopers Tax Consultants Belgium email: sophie.claessens@be.pwc.com Mobile: +32 473 91 05 67 Office: +32 3 259 3169

Sophie Claessens is an international VAT advisor, based in Antwerp, Belgium, with a particular focus on business-to-consumer industries, including telecommunications, media, internet and e-commerce. She supports major industry players on sector-specific issues, including VAT compliance at both an operations and strategic level, and is directly involved in policy work for businesses in these industries, both at the Belgian level and at the level of the European Commission. She is responsible for indirect taxes in the communications sector at PwC Belgium and is a driver of PwC's Business Working Group on the EU 2015 VAT changes. She has authored articles for publication in Belgian and international tax journals.

EU – Advocate General Opinion – Bitcoin dealing VAT-free as currency exchange?

ECJ Advocate General Kokott has recommended the Court to consider dealing in bitcoins for a commission to be a service exempt from VAT under the currency dealing provision (link – to the German version of the opinion. In English it is not yet available) .

A Swedish dealer in bitcoins (buying and selling bitcoins in exchange for Swedish kroner) was in dispute with the tax office over the VAT liability on the currency exchange. He maintained that he was providing a VAT exempt service of currency exchange, whereas the tax office disputed the point because bitcoins are not legal tender. It was also pointed out that bitcoins are not subject to any form of government supervision or control and offer no guarantee of continued usefulness to the holder. Find out more

EU 2015 VAT Changes – Results of PwC’s 2015 Impact and Readiness Survey

As indicated at our recent B2C 2015 work group event in Brussels PwC recently conducted a “2015 Impact and Readiness Survey” for which we invited businesses from across all sectors (telecom, broadcasting and eservice providers) and all geographical regions.We launched this survey with the aim of gathering data on the impact of the EU 2015 VAT changes on affected businesses. The survey also testes how ready businesses feel to be able to deal with the imminent changes.

Find out more

Belgium – Bitcoin Trading Exempt from VAT … for now

In a recent decision issued for an online Bitcoin trading platform, the Belgian tax authorities have confirmed that the trading of Bitcoins and other virtual currencies is similar to the activity of an intermediary negotiating in securities and other negotiable instruments and, as a consequence, is exempt from VAT under the Belgian VAT code provision implementing Article 135(1)(d) of the EU VAT Directive. As a result, the activities should be treated as exempt from VAT and Bitcoin and alike trading platforms should not charge VAT to their customers with respect to their exchange services. On the other hand, those platforms have no right to deduct the input VAT paid in relation to their exchange activity.
Find out more

ECJ Decision (K Oy): VAT rate for non-printed books can only differ if they meet different needs for consumers

On 11 September 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) gave its decision in K Oy regarding the question whether reduced rates for printed books should equally be applied to books published on another medium, or whether different VAT rates can be justified (case C-219/13 – click link) .

The Court has ruled that a selective application of the reduced VAT rates to printed books is not justified unless the printed books meet different needs for consumers as compared to books published on ‘other physical means of support’ (i.e. CD, DVD, USB stick).

Find out more

EU 2015 VAT on digital supplies – EU Commission published additional guidelines on the audit & control under MOSS

On 13 June the EU Commission has published additional guidelines on the audit of the VAT Mini One Stop Shop scheme (MOSS).

The additional MOSS guidelines are available on the EU Commission’s website in English (Link). It will be translated in all EU languages, as well in Chinese and Japanese.

The guidelines include additional information for businesses signing up for the Mini One Stop Shop and notably on:

  • how to best contact businesses as part of an audit;
  • the method businesses should use to provide the information required by an audit.

These are recommendations only and not binding for the EU Member States.

Find out more

South Africa – Follow-up Webcast on the planned indirect taxation of eservices – 23 April 2014, 15.30 – 16.15 CET

As previously reported here, the implementation of South African VAT on electronic services and associated obligation for non-resident businesses to register for VAT purposes in South Africa, has been delayed by 2 months and will be effective as of 1 June 2014.

PwC’s Indirect Tax Webcast series continues with a follow-up session of the latest developments in the South African legislation.

The presenter will be again Gerard Soverall, Tax Partner of PwC South Africa, who is specialised in e-commerce and cross-border indirect taxation.

Find out more

EU 2015 VAT Changes: EU Commission published Explanatory Notes on the new VAT rules

On 4 April, the European Commission has published Explanatory Notes to prepare businesses for the new VAT rules for telecom, broadcasting and electronic services, which will enter into force on 1 January 2015.

The aim is to help businesses to be fully prepared on time for the change-over, whereby VAT on telecom, broadcasting and electronic services will be charged where the customer is based, rather than where the seller is.

The Explanatory Notes are available on the EU Commission’s website in English (click link). (It will later be translated in all EU languages, as well as in Chinese and Japanese.)

We will discuss the key provisions and critical issues of the EU Commission’s Explanatory Notes with businesses, delegates of the Member States and the Commission during our next B2C 2015 Working Group meeting in Brussels, on 23 April 2014.

South Africa – New Electronic Services Tax postponed till June 1st – Materials and recording of PwC Webcast of 25 March 2014

Following our previous post, you can now access the recorded version of our Webcast on South Africa’s plans to apply 14% VAT on all electronic services, even those bought from foreign businesses.

On 28 March the South African National Treasury published its “Electronic Services Regulations” in the Government Gazette and released a media statement, announcing a postponement of the effective date till June 1st, 2014.

The changes will make it compulsory for foreign e-commerce suppliers of electronic books, music and other digital services to register for VAT in South Africa.

Find out more