Originally meant to be introduced in 1st January of this year, the implementation of these big changes in VAT in the European Union has been put back to 1st July due to COVID-19 and may be delayed even further because of concerns raised by influential countries such as Germany and the Netherlands on whether they can implement the changes on time.
The new law is very complex and you can find full links to the EU legislation on the EU website .
However here is a brief summary of the changes:
For goods imported from outside the EU or sold by non-EU traders, E-Commerce internet marketplaces will be, in certain cases, for VAT purposes deemed to be the supplier of goods to customers in the EU.
Let’s see how this work out in the case of an Amazon trader. So in these cases the Amazon trader will no longer need to collect the VAT on each sale and pay it over to the tax authorities where the customer is based ! Amazon will be required to do all of this on the trader’s behalf!
As a consequence, the trader will no longer be required to file VAT returns, or even maintain VAT registration, in the EU countries where there customers are based and they hold no stock. They will be required to keep their VAT registration in countries whey they are physically holding stock e.g. in the Amazon fulfilment warehouse, and to raise a VAT exempt invoice to Amazon for each sale that is made to customers. We assume that this will need to be reported quarterly to the Tax Authority for that country as a VAT exempt Intracommunity supply.
So in which cases is this big change going to apply ?
- Goods imported and sold to EU customers by non-EU traders, to a maximum of 150 Euros.
- Goods that are already in the EU (whether by origin or having been imported and cleared EU customs) that are sold by non-EU traders.
These changes are going to have a very big effect because much of what is being sold online in the EU is either imported or being sold by non-EU companies.
It is important to note that, for these rules to apply, the internet marketplace must be seen to be “facilitating the sale”, which means that it must control the terms and condition of the sale, payment between customer and supplier and arrange the delivery of the goods- which would be the case in the full package offered under Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA).
Extension of the EU VAT One Stop Shop to all traders and all services/goods
This change will make life a lot easier for many EU traders. They will now be able to declare and pay VAT on their sale to customers in other EU countries in one unified VAT return in their own country.
So if a Dutch Amazon trader has customers in Spain and France then they will be able to include these sales in their Dutch One Stop EU VAT return. VAT on the French sales will be at 20% and on the Spanish sales at 21% and the Dutch tax authorities will pay the amounts due to their Spanish counterparts. As you can see, these are massive changes to make to the tax declaration systems in EU countries, and it no surprise that some Member States are requesting a further delay to give them time for implementation.
One important note is that, under this scheme, traders will still be required to maintain VAT registration in the countries where they hold stock. So if the trader is using the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) program, it remains to be seen how this will work out in practice. I.e. if a Portuguese trader holds stock in an Amazon FBA centre in Spain, and makes sales to Portuguese customers (there is no Amazon distribution centre in Portugal), then will they still need to declare these sales in Spain or could they do it via the One Stop Shop of the Portuguese Tax Authorities ?
Amazon itself is being very quiet on this matter and we can find no reference on their websites to the upcoming changes in EU VAT law, which is unexpected because the changes are imminent !