The Belgian tax authorities submitted questions to the VAT Committee regarding the notion of electronically supplied services as referred to in the EU VAT Directive and the Implementing Regulation, the possible interaction of this type of services with other services and the issue of VAT exemption of such services.
On 9 April 2015, the Australian Treasurer announced that the government will be introducing new GST measures aimed at overseas companies supplying digital services into Australia. The Treasurer stated that “a company providing intangible services into Australia, such as media services or so on, wherever they are located they should charge GST on those services.”
Specific details of the proposed changes are not available yet, however, they are widely anticipated to be announced in the May 2015 Budget (on 12 May 2015).
On 1 January 2015, the new EU 2015 VAT rules came into effect changing the place of taxation in respect of all supplies of telecommunications, broadcasting and e-services to consumers in the EU, from the (single) place where the supplier is located to the (multiple) places where the customers belong.
Following the recent National Budget speech in South Africa, various proposals were tabled for consideration including a proposed amendment to the Electronic Services Regulation No. 37489, dated 28 March 2014.
Albania joined the group of countries which require non-established e-service providers to register for VAT for supplies made to private individuals.
Effective from 1 January 2015 the Albanian VAT legislation deems the place of supply of “telecommunication, transmission and electronic services” to non-taxable persons to be where the non-taxable person receiving the service is “placed, has a permanent address or resides usually”, regardless of the place where the supplier is established.
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.)
The Tax Authority of Buenos Aires (AGIP) has established a new turnover-based (i.e., provincial sales tax) withholding tax system for foreign suppliers of e-services to Argentinian private consumers located in Buenos Aires (B2C supplies).
According to initial provisions of the new regime, effective February 1, 2015, withholding agents (Argentine credit card companies) that collect payments for such services should withhold 3% turnover tax from the payments made by final consumers to the non-resident service providers. Credit card companies have, however, formally asked the AGIP for additional time to make the necessary amendments to their systems, enabling them to identify whether the payments relate to taxable services to be used in Buenos Aires. As a result, the AGIP has postponed the enactment of the new regime until withholding agents can adequately modify their systems to be able to collect the tax.
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.