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.
In Iceland the reduced VAT rate applicable to e-books and electronically published music increased from 7% to 11% as of 1 January 2015. Therefore, it must be ensured that you account for VAT on such sales at the appropriate rates. You can access further information of the overall Icelandic tax rules in 2015 here.
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.
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.
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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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.
The French tax authorities together with the Enterprise Europe Network Paris Ile-de-France Centre and the European Commission will held a free of charge conference in Paris on 3 November 2014 to provide guidance on the new EU rules which will apply from 1 January 2015 regarding the B2C supply of telecommunication services, television and radio broadcasting, and electronically supplied services.
In a recent decision issued for an online Bitcoin trading platform, the Belgian tax authorities have confirmed that the trading of Bitcoins and other virtual currencies is similar to the activity of an intermediary negotiating in securities and other negotiable instruments and, as a consequence, is exempt from VAT under the Belgian VAT code provision implementing Article 135(1)(d) of the EU VAT Directive. As a result, the activities should be treated as exempt from VAT and Bitcoin and alike trading platforms should not charge VAT to their customers with respect to their exchange services. On the other hand, those platforms have no right to deduct the input VAT paid in relation to their exchange activity.
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The Advocate General (AG) released her opinion in the interesting VAT case dealing with the situation whether a foreign company can be regarded as having a fixed establishment in the supplier’s Member State by using the supplier’s infrastructure.
As previously reported here, the implementation of South African VAT on electronic services and associated obligation for non-resident businesses to register for VAT purposes in South Africa, has been delayed by 2 months and will be effective as of 1 June 2014.
PwC’s Indirect Tax Webcast series continues with a follow-up session of the latest developments in the South African legislation.
The presenter will be again Gerard Soverall, Tax Partner of PwC South Africa, who is specialised in e-commerce and cross-border indirect taxation.