VAT & e-Commerce: further technical details on rules for online platforms in 2021 officially published | Deloitte Nederland

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VAT & e-Commerce: further technical details on rules for online platforms in 2021 officially published

Early December the technical amendments to support the 2021 e-commerce rules were officially published. The adopted amendments do not differ notably from the proposals published in December 2018.

13 December 2019

Suppliers both within and outside the EU supplying goods to consumers as well as entrepreneurs facilitating such supplies must prepare themselves for a major change in the VAT treatment of their supplies as of 1 January 2021.

Background

The amendments to the VAT Directive and to the Implementing Regulation are necessary to support the VAT e-commerce package which introduced new VAT obligations for digital platforms and VAT compliance simplifications for online businesses. They are aimed at making online platforms responsible for the calculation, collection and payment of VAT on transactions with consumers and at extending the one-stop-shop regime to distance sales of goods (both intra-EU and from third countries) and to online platforms.

From January 2021, online platforms will become responsible for ensuring that VAT is collected on sales of goods by non-EU companies to EU consumers taking place on their platforms. This means that they will be deemed to have purchased the goods from the suppliers (B2B supplies) and subsequently supplied the goods to customers (B2C supplies). They will have to report the VAT on the B2C-transactions. This applies when:

  •  they facilitate distance sales of goods with a maximum intrinsic value of € 150 that are imported from a non-EU country into the EU;
  •  they facilitate the supply of goods to consumers within the EU when the supplier is not established in the EU. This latter rule applies regardless of the intrinsic value of the goods supplied.

The purpose of the new VAT liabilities is to ensure VAT authorities obtain the VAT due in case non-EU sellers have not complied with the rules. The Commission now introduces provisions that clarify the situations in which platforms are considered to have facilitated a sale between users and detail the records they must keep on sales made via their interface.

Detailed technical amendments

The new amendments clarify the meaning of the term ‘facilitating’, putting forward a broad ‘deemed reseller’ concept. Facilitating means the use of a platform to allow customer and supplier to enter into contact, resulting in a supply of goods through that platform. The rules also clarify when platforms are excluded from this broad definition:

  •  setting the general terms of sale; 
  • involved in charging payment; or
  • involved in ordering or delivery.

Moreover, electronic interfaces are also not considered to facilitate the supply if they:

  • only provide payment processing services;
  • simply list or advertise the goods; or
  • link to other electronic interfaces where goods can be purchased, without further intervention in the supply.

Where an electronic interface facilitates a supply, VAT treatment will see it deemed as supplying the goods to the customer (as a so-called ‘deemed reseller’) if it concerns goods sent from outside the EU to a B2C customer, or from inside the EU to a B2C customer where the supplier is established outside the EU.

The proposal also contains specific provisions that govern the supply chain in such case, stipulating that transport is allocated to the supply by the electronic interface rather than the supply to the electronic interface, and introducing a VAT exemption (with credit) for the supply from the underlying seller to the electronic interface.

Furthermore, an electronic interface depends on the accurate information received from the suppliers selling goods through his interface. He cannot be held liable for excess VAT that it has not declared and paid when the information provided by the suppliers is erroneous and it can prove that he did not and could not reasonably know that this information was incorrect.

The new rules also contain new information retention obligations for electronic interfaces that go beyond their VAT liability as deemed reseller.

Practical consequences

We expect that the complex nature of the new definitions will certainly lead to interpretation discussions. We believe that the proposed measures will have a great impact on the VAT treatment of supplies of goods for suppliers both within and outside the EU supplying goods to consumers as well as interfaces facilitating such supplies. The new rules will affect their business and their ERP systems. In the light of the recent adoption of earlier Commission proposals, we advise that you take notice of these plans and to prepare your business for the implementation of the new rules in 2021.

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