On 21 June 2013, the European Council reached political agreement on implementing rules for taxing B2C telecommunications, broadcasting and electronically supplied services from 1 January 2015.
In this article, Sophie Claessens and Ine Lejeune give an overview of the new implementing provisions and what additional guidance can be expected from the Explanatory Notes that are currently being drafted by the European Commission.
Publisher/Publication: IBFD, International VAT Monitor, 2014 (Volume 25), No. 1; first published online on 16 January 2014.
We are pleased to update you on some recent EU VAT developments that we believe are very relevant for all e-commerce and digital businesses in the context of the B2C 2015 VAT changes and their implementation projects.
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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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Two months have passed since our last VIES report two months; its time to take a look at how this very important site hosted by the European Commission has behaved in September and October 2013. The reasons why the VIES application is so important for ecommerce businesses are explained here.
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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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The start of 2015 will bring the biggest single change to the EU VAT regime that telecom operators, broadcasters and others that provide eservices have seen in decades.
The legislation is expected to have a profound impact on e-services providers, particularly on their pricing and commercial strategy. As providers of these services take steps to adapt to the new legislation, the result will be either a sharp increase in the prices charged to many consumers or a cut in suppliers’ profit margins – neither of which is a desirable outcome.
In practice, companies based in the EU will be affected the most, as the rules change mostly for those suppliers. The changes will also affect non-EU suppliers. The legislation is expected to have a profound impact on eservices providers, particularly on their pricing and commercial strategy
Stephen Dale, Martin Blanche and Johnathan Davies provide an overview on the changes the new EU VAT rules will bring to telecom operators, broadcasters and other providers of eservices from 1 January 2015. Their article “EU: small change, big impact” (originally published in Tax planning international – Indirect taxes: Volume 11, Number 10, October 2013) focuses on possible outcomes for eservice providers.
The EU Commission has published practical guidelines on the mini-one-stop-shop to prepare businesses for the new B2C VAT rules for telecoms, broadcasting and eservices, which will enter into force with 1 January 2015.
The aim is to help businesses to be fully prepared on time for the change-over, whereby VAT will be charged in the country where the customer is based.VAT will have to be collected by all providers of telecom, broadcasting and eservices, regardless whether they are established inside or outside of the EU. Find out more
“Today’s tax systems were conceived in a pre-computer age. So it is no surprise that they often clash with the modern, digital economy. Taxation must not be an obstacle to all that is good about the digital revolution. Yet, we must also ensure that the digital sector plays fair and pays fair.” These are the words of Mr. Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Anti-fraud and Audit, published in the recent press release of the European Commission.
“The digital sector must contribute fairly to public finances. Currently corporate tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning are particularly problematic in the digital economy. This is due to the global and intangible nature of these companies, and the fact that today’s tax rules were not designed with e-commerce in mind. As a result, the taxes paid by the digital economy are frequently not in line with the presence and profits of this sector in the EU.”
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The special VAT regime (taxation of the margin) that applies to travel agents and to tour operators (incl. of on-line travel agencies) – the TOMS – has just recently been commented on in detail in eight judgments handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union. The eight decisions all relate to the issue of whether the special VAT regime must only apply in a transaction between a travel agent and a “traveler” or whether the regime must apply to any transaction falling within the scope of that scheme between a travel agent and any client. One of the decisions involving Spain also dealt with a few separate issues – mostly specific to Spain – apart from the calculation of the margin itself.
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The Implementing Regulation on the B2C 2015 place of supply changes, which was adopted last June, has now been published on the Council’s website. It amends/complements VAT Implementing Regulation 282/2011 on the place of supply of services. The regulated provisions concerning the B2C 2015 VAT changes have effect as from 1 January 2015.
You will find the regulation in English (here), in German (here) and in French (here). It is also available in many other official languages of the European Union.
For more information, we refer to our previous post here.