Tag Archives: ebooks

Luxemburg – e-books are subject to the standard VAT rate as of 1 May 2015

The Luxemburg tax authorities were rather quick to the react on the ECJ’s recent decision on the VAT treatment of e-books. As reported in our previous post, in the infringement procedure against Luxemburg and France the court held that these countries incorrectly applied reduced VAT rate to the sale of e-books.

It is confirmed in a “Circular” published by the tax authorities on 16 March that Circular 756 is revoked with effect from 1 May 2015, and as of that date the standard VAT rate of 17% should be applied to the sale of e-books. (Please refer to the news update on PwC’s GlobalVATOnline.)

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E-books – ECJ rules reduced VAT rate is not applicable

The ECJ today delivered its long awaited judgments on the infringements procedures against France and Luxemburg on the application of the reduced VAT rates to e-books.

The court held that, in line with the VAT Directive and Implementing Regulation, e-books qualify as electronically supplied services, and as such reduced VAT rates cannot be applied. Therefore, the VAT treatment of printed books (or more precisely, “books on of all physical means”, according to the VAT Directive), which are taxable at the reduced VAT rate in most EU countries, cannot be extended to e-books. In this respect, the ECJ also quoted its previous decision in the Finnish K Oy case, in which the court decided that the reduced VAT rate may be used for the sale of books on CDs or USB siticks, as these are “physical means”.

Accepting the ECJ’s argumentation and strict interpretation of the relevant legislation, the only option to use the reduced VAT rate for e-books as well, is to change the legislation. This is likely to be done as part of an overall review of the VAT system, which will be a longer process.

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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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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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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).

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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.

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Luxembourg: Infringement procedure on VAT rates for ebooks

Not long ago we have updated you about the EU Commission’s infringement procedure against France related to their application of the super reduced VAT rates for ebooks. France and Luxembourg share the opinion that ebooks should be taxed as their physical contra-parts (as books), whereas the EU Commission has the opinion that under the current VAT Directive rules ebooks should be regarded as all other eservices and therefore taxed with the standard VAT rate.

Following the published case against France two weeks ago, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) has also published the EU Commission’s infringement procedure against Luxembourg. Some more information are available at GlobalVATonline.

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France: Infringement procedure on VAT rates for ebooks published

We have been discussing the developments about the EU Commission’s infringement procedure against Luxemburg and France related to their application of the super reduced VAT rates for ebooks several times in the past (last time here). The EU Commission is of the view that under the current VAT Directive rules ebooks should be regarded as all other eservices and taxed with the standard VAT rate. Luxemburg and France are of the opinion that ebooks should be taxed as their physical contra-parts – i.e. as books.

As reported on PwC’s GlobalVATonline, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) has recently published the EU Commission’s infringement procedure case against France. There is no official news about the infringement procedure case against Luxembourg available at this moment.

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