Serbia: Definition and scope of service

The Serbian tax administration has recently issued a new “rulebook” on electronically supplied services. It defines the scope and types of services that should be regarded as electronically supplied services for Serbian VAT purposes. These include for example the supply of software and related updates, supply and maintenance of websites, service in the field of distance learning etc

Even though the “rulebook” finally provides a definition of eservices, certain types of listed services could cause uncertainties in practice and might require further clarifications, e.g. the supply of pictures, text and information in electronic format; the supply of audio and video records etc.

Check here for some more details and contact information.

What does this mean for you?

It is a welcome movement that the Serbian legislation addresses the VAT implications of current issues, such as eservices. It would appear however, that the rules and definitions may differ from those in the EU. It is therefore highly recommended to analyze the nature of your business’s supplies in detail to see if they fall within the definitions of the “rulebook”.

France Proposed VAT rate increase in 2014

The French government announced tax rate changes as part of a planned tax relief for companies last week. The proposal intends to make the French companies more competitive on the international market, however in return the VAT rates will be increased.

According to the announcement the standard VAT rate would increase from the current 19.6% to 20%, while the reduced VAT rate would increase from 7% to 10%. Some good news, that the super-reduced VAT rate is proposed to decrease from 5.5% to 5%.

As per the information published the VAT rate changes will be effective from 1 January 2014.

What does this mean for you?

Any change in the VAT rates in France will affect businesses both as suppliers and as customers. Businesses VAT registered in France, doing or planning doing business in France should therefore keep abreast with the developments.

Cross-border ecommerce whithin the EU

Ordering goods per internet that are sent directly to your home has become increasingly popular these days. It’s easier, more convenient and you can do it while riding a bus or waiting for your dentist appointment. While you could already buy clothes from catalogues decades ago, you can even do your groceries shopping via your smart phone today. But what are the tax obstacles in this area for companies offering those services within the EU?

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Australia: Results of the Low Value Import Relief review

The final report of the Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce (“the Taskforce”) was recently released by the Australian authorities.

In a previous report in 2011 the Productivity Commission found that the low value import exemption threshold for GST and duty on imported goods (currently set at AUD 1’000) was not the main factor affecting the international competitiveness of Australian retailers (this is a totally opposite conclusion than the one made by the EU – see here for more info) . The Productivity Commission advised that there could be grounds to reduce the low value import relief threshold, but it is not cost-effective to do so without streamlining the procedure of processing low value parcels.
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Will Switzerland implement reduced VAT rate for ebooks?

As discussed before, France and Luxemburg decided to apply the reduced VAT rate to ebooks, most likely also to attract publishing companies to their countries. As this treatment does not comply with the applicable EU rules, the EU Commission initiated the appropriate action against these two countries.

As Switzerland is not part of the EU, EU VAT rate restrictions do not apply. According to the Swiss Parliament’s website the “Bundesrat” is requested to consider the application of the reduced VAT rate to ebooks, as part of the ongoing review of the VAT legislation.

It appears that Swiss legislators would like to remove the distinction in VAT treatment which exists between paper books and ebooks.

What does this mean for you?

If you are involved in publishing or distributing ebooks, you should also monitor the Swiss ebooks and eservice developments. As you might be already aware you are required to register for VAT in Switzerland if your B2C sales to Swiss residents exceed CHF 100’000 in a single calendar year.

Asia: The physical side of ecommerce

Ecommerce in Asia is booming. China alone is forecast to grow to an over US $350 billion industry by 2016. While some markets may already be considered mature (Australia, for example), the growth of internet connectivity and consumer purchasing power cannot be ignored by either small-to-medium enterprises or multi-national corporations looking to reach new consumers.

Ultimately, e-commerce is likely to continue growing because it can more easily provide a wide variety of products at  lower prices and greater flexibility to customers, which in turn leads to an enhanced shopping experience.

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EU: ebooks infrigement procedure – second act

As you are probably aware, France and Luxembourg have on 1 January 2012 started to tax the sales of ebooks at reduced VAT rate instead of applying the standard VAT rate. This means that ebusinesses selling ebooks through a sales entity in Luxembourg were able to tax them at 3% rate instead of 15% and in France at 7% rate (5,5% as of 1 January 2013) instead of 19,6%.

The EU Commission in its role of the guardian of the EU Treaties and legislation does not agree with the unilateral decision of France and Luxembourg and has therefore initiated a formal infringement procedure and has in July 2012 send them a Letter of Formal Notice.

A very good and conveniently brief explanation on the infringement procedure and its implications can be found here.

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Singapore: Goods and Services Tax for e-commerce transactions in Singapore

To provide clarity on the Goods and Services Tax (“GST”) treatment for e-commerce transactions, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (“IRAS”) has issued a new e-tax guide: “GST: Guide for e-Commerce”.

The e-tax guide clarifies that the medium through which a transaction occurs does not alter the taxability of the transaction. In other words, a supply of goods or services made via the Internet or other electronic media is no different from that made via traditional methods. As such, a GST-registered business is required to charge and account for GST on such transactions, as applicable. The e-tax guide also provides guidance on the GST treatment for the supply of physical goods, digitised goods and services made via the Internet and other electronic media.

What does this mean for you?

If you do business in Singapore and also have a GST registration, you should be aware that GST should be applied to all goods that are ordered or delivered on-line.

EU: Proposal of the new Voucher Directive

As reported some time ago the EU Commission is working on the proposal of a Voucher Directive, which will amend the VAT Directive with rules on vouchers.

Please find the current draft of the proposal here.

This is another topic that will be discussed during our meeting of the B2C 2015 Working Group on 24 October 2012 in Brussels. If you are not already member of this group, contact Sophie Claessens directly.

EU: Mini one stop shop (MOSS) regulation for ebusinesses adopted

The Council Regulation (EU) No 967/2012 laying down rules on the application of the provisions of the VAT Directive concerning special schemes for taxable persons supplying telecommunications services, broadcasting services or electronic services to non-taxable persons (i.e. B2C) has been published.

The Regulation amends Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 282/2011 and introduces new measures covering both “mini one stop shop” special schemes for EU and non-EU ebusinesses to be applied as from 1 January 2015.

For additional information you can access the Minutes of the Council (page 13) and text of the proposal.

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