Simpler Rules for VAT in Ecommerce

The European Commission is proposing new rules allowing online traders to deal easily with all their VAT obligations in one place.

How did we get here?

Online shopping is great and a lot of people are doing it. But not many of them are shopping online cross-border. There are several reasons for that (geoblocking, different legal rights - you name it!). Some make it difficult for customers to buy online from another country, some make it difficult for traders to sell products to another country. Such as differing rules on Value Added Tax (VAT). Currently, online traders have to register for VAT in every Member State to which they sell goods. This costs them around 8000 Euro for every EU country into which they sell.


Why is this important for me?

Because it is one of several mosaic pieces that will make online shopping in the EU better. For retailers it could become more attractive to do cross-border ecommerce because one of the main obstacles that keeps consumers from shopping online abroad is removed. This may lead to less geoblocking, a greater variety and availability of products, more competition and lower consumer prices. In short: it's one(!) step towards an actual Digital Single Market.


What's the content?

The proposal by the European Commission forsees that online traders do no longer need to register and pay VAT individually in every country they are doing business in. Instead, they just make one simple quarterly return for the VAT due across the whole EU, using an online VAT One Stop Shop. Yep, that's basically it.

This mini-one-stop-shop thing (short: MOSS) is a web-portal that already exists for electronic sales, such as apps or software, and has been working pretty well. The Commission estimates that the administrative trouble for companies will be reduced by a 95%! So they could save 2.3 billion Euro.

These new rules are accompanied by some other measures (that's why they call it a VAT Action plan):


What's happening with this legislation in the future?

This file is dealt with in the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and - for the Council - among finance ministers. The main phase of discussion is now ongoing, but the first EP vote won't take place before October 2017. However, this is not a normal procedure, since anything related to tax law is handled under a special procedure: the Council basically adopts the the rules after consultation with the Parliament but without needing to follow its opinion.


Related Bills:

Geoblocking: Less consumer discrimination online

New consumer rules for online shopping

Cheaper cross-border Parcel Delivery

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