Have a look at this timeline for the new, definitive VAT system. You may realize that 2022 is not so far away. Though that deadline remains subject to the recommendations of the EU Commission, the time to act is right now!
Fortunately, the VAT package offers several measures, or “short-term quick fixes,” adopted by many Member States for entry into force in 2020.
(If you haven’t already, catch up on our earlier post introducing the VAT package of 2022).
The first short-term fix is to simplify and standardize the call-off stocks arrangements throughout the EU. (Call-off stocks are those where a vendor transfers a stock to a warehouse that is at the disposal of a specific client in another Member State). In a nutshell, if the foreseen conditions are met, these transactions will be considered exempted in the Member State from which the stock departs. They will qualify as one intra-EU acquisition in the Member State of arrival, in the hands of the final acquirer of the goods.
The second fix relates to the intra-EU supply of goods. It specifies that the VAT identification number of the customer will be a material requirement necessary to the application of the related VAT exemption.
Under the third fix, the movement of goods in cases of chain transactions will be allocated to one supply that, alone, will benefit from the VAT exemption. This fix introduces a set of conditions for a common approach in this respect. (Other transactions are thus subject to VAT and may require an identification of the supplier).
The last fix involves the proof acceptable for the claim of VAT exemption on an intra-EU supply. It foresees that the application of a VAT exemption should depend on a common (obligatory) framework of documents, to sustain the transport or dispatch from one Member State to another.
An additional note
The VAT package also stipulates certain situations in which a temporary derogation from the application of the standard VAT rules, or a “generalized reverse-charge” (GRCM), should apply. Following this, the customer will be liable for the payment of VAT if specific conditions are met, and provided that the EU Commission and Council have granted a specific authorization to the request of the Member State. In such cases, the Member State must comply with very strict technical conditions (level of the VAT gap, proof that the domestic measures are not sufficient to combat fraud, proof that the administrative cooperation is not working—plus, 25% of the VAT gap has to be caused by the carousel fraud). Insofar as this measure foresees very specific rules, it should not have a great impact in Luxembourg.
What happens after 2022?
These short-term fixes are set to be operational from January 2020, while the definitive VAT regime is expected to go live from 2022 onward. (Read our earlier article for more details).
In 2027 an evaluation is scheduled, leading to the full implementation of the definitive VAT system.
According to the European Commission, this action plan sets out the pathway to the creation of “a VAT area that can support a deeper and fairer single market and help to boost jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness.” Basically, this is what is hoped for in a VAT area fit for the 21st century!
This article was written together with Laurence Lhote.