Modernising VAT for cross border e-Commerce

The European Commission released legislative proposals to remove VAT obstacles for e-commerce to realize fair competition between traditional business and e-commerce.

The Commission has proposed practical new measures to support the digital economy when it comes to VAT compliance, which can currently place heavy burdens on small companies operating online.

The new rules should help to accelerate growth for online businesses, in particular startups and SMEs.

Proposals include:

  • New rules allowing companies that sell goods online to take care of all their VAT obligations in the EU through a digital online portal (‘One Stop Shop’), hosted by their own tax administration and in their own language. These rules already exist for online sellers of electronic services (‘e-services’);
  • To support startups and micro-businesses, the introduction of a yearly VAT threshold of €10 000 under which cross-border sales for online companies are treated as domestic sales, with VAT paid to their own tax administration. This goes hand in hand with other initiatives such as same invoicing and record keeping rules. Our aim is to make trading in the single market as similar as possible to trading at home for these companies;
  • The removal of the current exemption from VAT for imports of small consignments from outside the EU, which leads to unfair competition and distortion for EU companies;
  • A change to existing VAT rules to enable Member States to apply the same VAT rate to e-publications like e-books and online newspapers, as they apply to their printed equivalents.

These new rules will have a major effect for companies selling goods and services online that will now be able to benefit from fairer rules, lower compliance costs and reduced administrative burdens.

Member States and citizens will benefit from additional VAT revenues of €7 billion annually and a more competitive market in the EU.

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About Richard Cornelisse

I advise multinational businesses in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their Indirect Tax Function and Tax Control Framework. I started my career as a manager at Arthur Andersen and then became a partner in EY where I led the indirect tax performance team for Netherlands and Belgium. Currently I am a senior managing director of Phenix Consulting. I have over 20 years’ experience advising clients on international VAT issues. I am specialized in the tax aspects of financial transformations, shared service centre migration, and post merger integration work. I am also somewhat of a mentor, giving back to the profession. If you are interested in conversation and discussion, please feel free to contact me.
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