On January 1, 2020, the so called “Quick Fixes” of the VAT Action Plan that the Commission has implemented for cross-border trade through Directive (EU) 2018/1910 enter into force.
With these four "quick fixes", the Commission attempts to temporarily resolve some of the main problems that are currently present in cross-border trade between Member States, related to i) "Call-Off Stock" or stock sales agreements, ii) supply chain transactions, iii) the VAT number in intra-EU operations and iv) the proof of transport.
i). Call-Off Stock or Stock Sales Agreements:
Up to now, these transfers of goods made by suppliers from an EU Member State to Spain, generally to the facilities of their clients, which will be available at a later stage, according to their needs, are treated as an operation assimilated to an intra-EU transaction, exempt from VAT, in the State of departure of the goods and as an operation assimilated to an intra-EU acquisition of goods in Spain VAT exempt as well, made by the supplier, followed by a local delivery of goods subject and not exempt from VAT but being the taxpayer responsible of the VAT due the recipient of said goods declaring the operation through the reverse charge procedure.
This scenario obliges suppliers to identify themselves for VAT purposes in the country of destination, Spain in our case, through a simplified registration and accomplishing certain formal and statistical obligations.
To avoid this scenario, certain EU Member States established a series of requirements that, if fulfilled, allowed the operation to be treated as an intra-community delivery of goods exempted in the EU Member State of departure and, as an intra-community acquisition in the country of arrival (being the responsible of the VAT due the customer), thus avoiding the VAT registration of the supplier at the country of arrival.
From January 1, 2020, these scenarios are simplified and will allow these transfers of goods from one EU Member State to another for later delivery, to be treated as an intra-EU delivery of goods VAT exempt in the EU Member State of departure and, as an Intra-EU acquisition made by the customer in the EU Member State of destination that should declare it when it occurs upon transfer of the legal title, provided that the supplier does not have a permanent establishment in the EU Member State of destination, knows the VAT number of his client and that, the power of disposal of the goods is transferred before 12 months upon arrival of the goods to the country of destination. Suppliers are obliged to keep an accounting record of these operations.
With this measure, the Commission intends to harmonize the applicable treatment throughout the EU and establish simplification measures for all EU Member States that allow companies to guarantee a supply tailored to the needs of their customers, eliminating tax burdens and applying a uniform treatment in EU Member States.
ii). Supply Chain Sales
From January 1, 2020, for supply chain sales involving three or more operators, the Commission establishes a new rule whereby the intra-community delivery of goods, VAT exempted, will fall, as a general rule, on the delivery made to the intermediary operator of the transaction.
However, the Commission has also established an exception to this general rule, allowing that said intra-community delivery exempt from VAT, would be referred to the transaction between the intermediary of the goods and his customer only if, this intermediary, has a VAT number of the EU Member State of departure of the goods.
In this way, the Commission regulates the treatment of a criteria established by the CJEU and tries to avoid that the rule to link intra-EU delivery of goods falls exclusively on the agreed Incoterms, thus ensuring that there is no double exemption or double taxation on these triangular transactions.
iii). VAT identification number in intra-EU transactions
Up to now, intra-community deliveries of goods are exempted from VAT provided that two fundamental requirements are met, i) supplier and final customer are established in two different EU Member States, and ii) goods are physically transported from one EU Member State to another.
For much legal certainty, a database of intra-Community operators within the EU was created, which could be consulted to verify the validity of the VAT identification number given by EU operators.
From January 1, 2020, this formal requirement will become a material requirement, so that every supplier must know before the shipment of the goods, the VAT number of the customer and must verify that said VAT number is included in the database, VIES System, in order to apply the VAT exemption. Otherwise, the delivery will be considered as a local delivery of goods subject and not exempt from VAT for all purposes and the Tax of the country of commencement of transport must be passed.
iv). Proof of transport intra-EU operations
Likewise, the Commission intends that, as of January 1, 2020, the means of evidence used to justify the effective transport of goods to another EU Member State, are assessed and uniform throughout the EU.
With these new measures, the Commission seeks to continue harmonizing the VAT criteria in all EU Member States and to unify the solutions to the most common practical problems. From Salinas & Partners, with more than 30 years of experience in indirect taxation and foreign trade, we are at your disposal for any questions or comments that may arise.