The complainant filed an input VAT refund claim for the period 10-12/2019. One invoice was rejected in the refund process, as it did not show the VAT ID number of the supplier. The appeal filed by the complainant was rejected by the tax authorities on the same grounds. The tax authorities added that merely stating the tax number of the issuer of the invoice is not sufficient for a refund of input VAT. It was therefore disputed whether the complainant was entitled to deduct the input VAT, even though the invoice did not show a valid VAT ID number of the supplier. It should be noted that the supplier only received a valid VAT ID number in 2021.
In past judgements, the ECJ pointed out that a tax authority is not entitled to refuse the right to deduct input VAT solely because the issued invoice does not meet the formal requirements. If the authority has all the necessary information to verify whether the substantive requirements for exercising the right to deduct input VAT are actually met, a deduction may be granted). According to the ECJ, a refusal to deduct input VAT also constitutes a breach of the "principle of proportionality" if the refusal is based solely on the fact that the invoice does not contain the mandatory invoice requirements.
In addition, the ECJ argues that invoices must contain, in particular, "…the information necessary to identify the person who issued the invoices and the service provided…". Stating the VAT ID number on the invoice is not mandatory, if the clear identification is ensured by the taxpayer's tax number.
This view is supported by literature as well. Input VAT deduction should thus be granted if the material requirements are met, even if the invoice may not be formally correct. In the present case there is only formal requirement missing, the valid VAT ID number of the supplier.
According to the Tax Appeals Court (30.6.2021, RV/2100296/2021), there is no reason to deny the input VAT deduction solely because the issuer of the invoice has not stated a valid VAT ID number on the invoice. This is especially true if the authority has not issued a VAT ID number to the supplier yet. In addition, the Tax Appeals Court held that it would have been possible for the authority based on the given invoice information to determine by simple database query that the supplier is listed as an entrepreneur and has declared the sales. Therefore, the Tax Appeals Court has no doubts as to the entrepreneurial status of the supplier and the input VAT refund from the disputed invoice is to be granted.
Jutta Schmidt ist Steuerberaterin bei Deloitte Wien. Sie ist als Senior Managerin im Indirect Tax & Global Trade Advisory Team tätig. Ihre Tätigkeitsschwerpunkte liegen im Umsatzsteuerrecht, der USt-Compliance sowie der umsatzsteuerlichen Sonderberatung von nationalen und multinationalen Unternehmen.