Partial revision of the VAT Law in Switzerland – Lower VAT registration threshold for e-service providers is proposed

The Swiss Federal Council has published its commentary to the partial revision of the VAT Law. If the draft legislation is approved by the Swiss parliament, the changes will come into effect on 1.1.2016. Among other changes we set out below those which are most relevant for ebiz & e-commerce.

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USA – Texas comptroller finds software licensed to Texas customers created nexus for sales and use tax purposes

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has recently determined that electronically downloaded software licensed by a Utah corporation to Texas customers constituted physical presence in Texas sufficient to establish sales and use tax nexus. According to the decision, nexus was established because the software was characterized as tangible personal property and the Utah corporation retained all property rights in the software, which was physically present and generating revenue in Texas. The Comptroller upheld an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determination that the corporation had an obligation to charge and collect use tax from customers, and denied refund claims of sales tax paid and an interest waiver. [201409970H; SOAH Docket No. 304-13-5657.26; CPA Hearing No. 106,632, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (9/19/2014)]​

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Online shopping – PwC’s Total Retail Survey 2015

Fifteen years ago, in the heyday of the e-business boom, Internet promised to change industries and business models very quickly, first of all in the retail sector. When these promised changes did not realise that quick, it resulted in the burst of the dot-com bubble.

However, even if change took longer than expected, now it is already part of our lives and not only in the developed countries, but all around the world. New online business models have a disruptive effect on long established businesses, as the fate of firms, such as Blockbuster, Borders and quite recently, RadioShack shows.

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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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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.

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