ECOFIN reviews ViDA reforms and potential delay: 2025 single VAT registration and platform economy deemed supplier; and 2028 mandatory e-invoicing & digital reporting
The EU Finance Ministers (‘ECOFIN’) working party on tax is set on 11 & 12 September 2023 to revisit the proposed 2025-28 VAT in the Digital Age (ViDA) reforms. Finance Ministers then meet 15th & 16th. This comes as some member states and the EU Parliament (see below) have called for at least a one-year delay (particularly in 2028 e-invoicing proposals) – see below. The current EU Council president, Spain, is looking for a confirmatory vote by EU Finance Ministers at their 8th December 2023 ECOFIN meeting. This is essential to meet the existing phased rollout between 2024 and 2028.
Key ViDA issues to be resolved:
- Delay of 2025-28 implementation timetable to give businesses and tax authorities more time to prepare. The EU Parliament’s ECON has called for 1-year delay (see below) – with potential of less contentious pillars (e.g. 2025 Single VAT registration) to proceed as planned;
1. Digital Reporting Requirements 2028
- Delaying 2024 proposed reforms, including: ending requirement for EC approval on e-invoicing; obliging all companies to be able to receive suppliers e-invoices.
- Lengthen the proposed 2-day transaction reporting deadline for intra-community transactions for digital reporting to tax authorities.
- Withdrawal of EC’s proposal to prohibit summary invoices from 2028
- Allowing member states to continue in full with their own domestic VAT pre-clearance regimes. The EC is proposing compelling member states to fully harmonise to the EU proposals by 2028;
- Making the adoption of EN 16931 structured e-invoice as optional only – instead of the proposed mandate proposal for 2028.
- Securing that the data from the “central VIES” is accessible in a secure and confidential manner;
2. Platform Economy 2025
- Is the full-liability ‘deemed supplier’ proposal disproportionate
- Exemptions for smaller businesses from the digital platform deemed supplier obligations
- Shortening the proposed 45-days rental threshold for the new deemed supplier obligations to 31 days
3. Single VAT Registration 2025
- Flexibility around the secondhand goods proposals
ViDA – 3 pillars of VAT reforms launching between 2024 and 2028
On 8th December 2022, the European Commission (EC) published its proposed VAT in the Digital Age (ViDA) reforms with three pillars (scroll down for 2023-28 timetable):
- Single VAT Registration – 2025 extension of OSS single VAT return for e-commerce and certain B2B goods movements; marketplace deemed supplier on EU sellers’ platform sales of goods; and harmonisation of non-resident reverse charge rules;
- Platform Economy 2025 VAT collections as deemed supplier for home and ride sharing platforms and intermediaries; and
- Digital Reporting Requirements (DRR) – 2028 mandatory structured VAT e-invoicing and digital reporting of intra-community supplies B2B transactions by suppliers and acquirers to their national tax authorities for consolidation in central VIES database. Member states may mandate e-invoicing or digital reporting for domestic reporting, but this must conform to new EU standards.
2 Aug 2023: EU Parliament plans call for 1-year delay to EC’s VAT in the Digital Age
The EU Parliament’s ECON committee on 18th July discussed its plan to call for a one-year delay on the European Commission’s VAT in the Digital Age (ViDA) reforms. Previously, on the 6th July, ECON had discussed a 2-year delay proposal, but this has now been shortened. On 20 June 2023, a draft report for the committee had proposed over 250 amendments to the EC’s proposals.
The July main non-binding compromises likely be recommended by Parliament under ECON, to be voted on on 24 October 2023.
16 June: EU Finance Ministers broadly agree with ViDA proposals at ECOFIN
But requests for delays on e-invoicing timetable and more consideration on platform reforms. Questions were also raised on costs of significant IT investment
EU Finance Ministers today provided the European Commission’s proposed VAT in the Digital Age reforms. At the monthly Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting in Luxembourg, the following points were made:
- Digital Reporting Requirements: Broad agreement to harmonise intra-community supplies digital reporting based on structured e-invoicing. However, several concerns:
- A number of states believe that there should be more flexibility for member states on domestic reporting, and limit the convergence of existing or proposed mandatory e-invoicing. Countries like Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Estonia and Lithuania felt countries should be able to set their own standards to reflect costs and existing plans. There remains some disagreement over pre-clearance e-invoicing, or at least some basic validation checks.
- Many countries were concerned on the 2028 launch date, including Luxembourg. The costs and development for tax payers and authorities could make this impractical.
- Platform Economy: Most countries supported the proposal to introduce a deemed supplier model to ride and accommodation sharing platforms. However, there are worries on distortion of competition and neutrality – particularly from France and Ireland. Several countries, including Denmark, asked for more marketplace reporting to be considered.
- Extension of OSS:There was near unanimous agreement on this pilar to the one-stop shop VAT return extension and the reverse charge mechanism harmonisation. Some member states, such as Italy and Hungary, commented on the tight deadline of 2025.
Some states have requested 1-year delay on 2028 e-invoicing harmonisation.
ViDA positive feedback from tax payers and EU states; but concerns on ‘very ambitious’ timetable & details
EU member states, parliaments, businesses and sector associations have reviewed the 3-pillar reform in a recently completed public consultation. A number of tax authorities are concerned about meeting the deadlines for IT changes and upgrades as detailed final requirements are not yet available. Typically, at least 18 months’ impelentation preparation is required from agreement (transposition of the VAT Directive changes – which won’t happen until at least the end of 2023). This indicates that some of the timetable will have to moved back – particularly for DRR which is seen as the most impactful pillar of ViDA in terms of number of businesses affected.
- 2025 Single VAT Registration and the OSS extension:
- Many taxpayers and countries are challenging the exclusion of capital goods.
- Some states are questioning the potential disproportionate ‘deemed supplier’ extension on e-commerce platforms for EU-resident sellers goods sales. It is not clear the level of fraud in this area and if this is penalising the platforms with the burden of collecting their sellers’ VAT.
- Like all of the proposed pillars, more work is needed on definitions, for example the position of auction platforms.
- The continuing prohibition of deducting input VAT via the OSS is raised by businesses – although it is well known that member states are against this. Businesses are concerned of the resulting rise in the number of VAT reclaims that will need to be posted if the right to locally VAT register is lost – are the member states’ IT systems robust enough to cope?
- Several business groups request a plan to integrate Intrastat into the OSS regime – challenging – and see DRR below.
- Changing Article 194 reverse charge from current option of member states to impose (‘may’) to an option (‘shall allow’) of the non-resident business to use (or VAT register) is positively received. Although will be complex for businesses to track and correctly report on invoices to avoid costly fines.
- 2025 Platform economy:
- Possibly the pillar facing the widest divergence of opinions with complex business models and the EC’s approach to attempt to tax some but not all of the gig & sharing economy.
- Is it disproportionate to switch VAT obligations to platforms given DAC7 reporting?
- There is a need to narrow the definition of intermediary and ‘platform facilitating’ to prevent many other activities being drawn in. This latter requirement may yet derail the reforms according to some parties given the dynamism of the evolving business models and the risk of creating IT barriers to entry for new platforms
- Lessons should be learned from existing gig & sharing platform deemed supplier implementations, including: Canada; India; the UK; Argentina (New Zealand 2024).
- Selecting only two types of supply, accommodation and ride sharing, may be impractical to implement as many business models include blends of several services and whether the platform knows the taxable status of the underlying supplier.
- Risks over double taxation of platform deemed supplier services and intermediary services.
- A limited number of respondents questioned why a 45-day limit on accommodation rental to determine the threshold for deemed supplier. Perhaps a 30 or even 15-day rental period to be comparable with a hotel rental.
- The proposed requirement for platforms to charge VAT if their underlying supplier does not provide a VAT number is challenged. This would raise questions about the communication of this and likely errors.
- Several businesses question the inclusion of sales of second-hand goods currently taxed on the margin scheme.
- 2024-28 Digital Reporting Requirements:
- Whilst supportive of the DRR objectives – efficiency and anti-fraud – of the package, many parties are concerned about the short timetables and associated costs. Particularly for the smallest of enterprises and how it may discourage intra-community trade.
- There were some calls for a phased implementation of e-invoicing and digital reporting, see France’s 2-year plan, for enterprise, medium and then small businesses.
- The 2024 proposed withdrawal of the requirement for member states to seek EC approval to introduce e-invoice regimes is well received. However, the are many concerns that such as early move – ahead of the 2028 harmonisation changes (see below) – would open-up a period of legislative uncertainty and rush by some to implement costly unharmonised regimes.
- 3.1 e-Invoicing
- The requirement for all businesses to be able to accept their suppliers’ e-invoices (removal of Article 232) for domestic transactions from January 2024. This is an extremely short notice period, and will heavily favour larger businesses with the resources to adapt. When linked to the Jan 2024 proposed removal of EC permission for member states to request approval to mandate e-invoices, this could create a barrage of new and unharmonised reporting requirements for unprepared businesses of all sizes. There are several requests to delay the change to at least January 2025.
- Is the proposed structured e-invoice CEN standard EN 16931 scope and definition wide enough as a satisfactory format B2B invoices. It will need extensive modifications and extensions to cover the wide range of B2B business models as the standard was developed for B2G.
- Some taxpayers have questioned the prohibiting of PDF digital signature invoices since they have proved effect in the same objectives as structured e-invoices. Others say the popular existing EDI standards (e.g. the UN’s EANCOM and SAP IDoc) not being allowed would create major costs for small businesses.
- Taxpayers welcome the EC prohibiting Italian or (proposed) Polish e-invoice pre-clearance requirements. However, they feel some basic validation checks on e-invoices would be welcome to avoid disputes and delays on the exchange of e-invoices between parties. Some suggested a registering and validation in the member state of issuance. This must however be carefully defined to ensure harmonisation and help businesses plan around their ERP’s and natural systems. This would include definitions around ‘substantive’ and ‘formal’ data controls
- Inclusion on e-invoices of IBAN payment details will be problematic as data often not available or a single bank account number. It may also be questionable if payment information is required to identify VAT fraud – the main objective of the obligation. And why is the payment date required?
- 3.2 Digital reporting
- Widespread concern for the 2-day reporting timetable for digital reporting of Intra-Community Supplies from 2028. Most contributors repeated that this is unrealistic for supplies received. Many point out that this would be shorter than natural systems (EPR’s and Accounts Payable routines) work and would undermine businesses’ controls over purchasing and cash flows. In addition, the deadline should start from booking into ledger, and not receipt. It is highly likely that the EC will have to amend this proposal – two weeks at least seems the popular request.
- More clarifications and justifications are required for which transactions are within digital reporting:
- Only intra-EU goods and services?
- Position of distance sales? Most B2C cross-border transactions do not require invoices or e-invoices – what would be the digital reporting process
- Why is it necessary to include the domestic reverse charge transactions?
- Position of cross-border transactions performed by parties resident in the same territory. Would the transaction be reporting in new digital reporting AND domestic reporting?
- What is the position of non-EU providers of services? Are the completely exempted from DRR – its seems unclear given the place of supply
- Ending summary invoices, a very common simplification for process for millions of invoices. Whilst recognising the need for transactional-level DRR reporting, many taxpayers pointed out that this removal will create huge increase in reporting obligations and costs, plus exposing them to multiple errors.
- A clash on the 2028 DRR implementation with SAP’s replacement of its widely used ECC system for S4/HANA – affecting thousands of taxpayers.
- Submissions mentioned more thought is needed on contested invoices – where the supplier and customer disagree – and VAT return reporting implications.
- Some feedback suggested in the interests of data security and confidentiality, a more basic set of data could be adopted for DRR to easily identify missing trader fraud:
- data on invoice number;
- each parties’ VAT numbers;
- reason for tax exemption; and
- total amount.
- Multiple requests to limit the ability of domestic tax authorities to introduce divergent e-invoicing and digital reporting regimes, and so promote reuse of technologies and reporting processes.
- Related to the above point, several taxpayers suggested imposing the same ICS digital reporting to domestic regimes to ensure full harmonisation and consistent approach.
- To help accelerate adoption of DRR, tax authorities could consider incentives for taxpayers:
- Faster credit repayments
- VAT bad debt relief
- Direct Tax accelerated write-offs on associated investment
VAT in the Digital Age timetable
2023 – Member states agreement
- Three-month public consultation by EC lasting until 5 May 2023 (see above)
- Review data security issues by EDPS
- Further public consultation on E-invoicing Directive
- EU Member states are already opening their own public consultations to gather local views.
- The EU Parliament and states will review, negotiate and approve at the European Council the proposed changes. It seems there is widespread backing for the reforms as they promise additional tax revenues balanced with flexibility to suit national priorities. Not all of the reforms will need to be adopted in 2023 since they do not come into effect for several years.
- EC’s ‘VAT Expert Group’ meets early October and may discuss any modifications from the above consultations
- 8 December 2023 for vote by member states at ECOFIN on proposals
- However, 2024 is EU Parliament elections year meaning limited political bandwidth for major reform debate. So the 2025 reforms (Single VAT Registration and Platform Economy pillars) will realistically have to be agreed by the Council by end of 2023 to meet the implementation target.
2024 – taxpayers must be able to accept suppliers’ ICS e-invoices
- Quick fixes to existing e-commerce VAT rules and processes
- Member states free to impose national e-invoicing without prior approval of the EC.
- Issuance of e-invoices will no longer be subject to the agreement of the customer, and therefore businesses must be prepared to accept e-invoices.
- A revised definition of ‘structured e-invoices‘ is added to the VAT Directive. This will, for example, clarify that PDF’s do not qualify as e-invoices.
2025 – Single VAT Registration & Platform Economy pillars
- The extension of the OSS return to e-commerce and own stock movements across EU borders.
- Call-off stock withdrawal as traders will be able to use OSS (see above)
- Marketplaces become deemed suppliers for their EU sellers’ B2C goods sales across EU borders. They already carry this responsibility for non-EU sellers.
- The IOSS to become mandatory for marketplaces which have facilitated their sellers’ imported goods sales. Deemed supplier marketplaces will therefore no longer be able to use the special arrangements VAT collections option introduced as part of the 2021 e-commerce VAT package.
- Harmonisation of reverse charge B2B goods when the customer or supplier is non-resident, and change to ‘may’ provision.
- Accommodation and ride sharing platforms become liable for users’ VAT collections and reporting.
2028 – Digital Reporting Requirements pillar
- Introduction of Digital Reporting Requirements for header-level data of intracommunity supplies within two days of the supply.
- E-invoices supplant paper invoices for legal purposes except in limited circumstances. Member states have the option to impose e-invoices for domestic transactions but all national regimes must converge with the EU e-invoicing standard, EN 16931.
- No new pre-clearance e-invoice regimes may be introduced by member states. Those already in place, Italy SdI and Poland’s 2024 planned e-invoicing, may continue until January 2028.
- Ending of summary invoices
- Mandatory structured e-invoicing for intra-community supplies of goods based on EN 16931 standard. These will include new data fields (e.g. settlement details)
- Withdrawal of ESL reporting since supplanted by the new DRR regime, above.
The EC believes these measures will save €1 billion in compliance costs for e-commerce sellers, and curb €11 billion of the €50 billion lost in missing trader (carousel) fraud. Shifting VAT collection obligations to travel and accommodation platforms will raise a further €6.5 billion. There will be significant implementation costs for DDR: businesses €11.3bn and tax authorities €2.2bn.
Benefits include: cutting the latest EU VAT Gap of €93 billion in lost revenues each year by over €4bn; raise €6bn per year in new revenues from platforms; and save e-commerce sellers €1bn per year on compliance costs.
1 Digital Reporting Requirements – Jan 2028
Under ViDA’s second strand for Digital Reporting Requirements, there will be two paths to tackle VAT fraud and realise the efficiencies of digitalisation of invoicing and reporting. The EC will put in safeguards and incentives to ensure these two paths converge to the single EU Invoicing Standard (EN 16931) as an open, regulated system without full clearance. Business are already spending €1.6bn per annum just complying with the introduced Italian SdI, Spanish SII, Hungarian and other variations.
Firstly, near-real time digital reporting of transaction summary data to be consolidated at the EU level. This double track may result in a major, complex burden for taxpayers, and much scope for diverging standards. But no doubt it is a product of a set of compromises to meet member states’ wishes to retain local control and limit the burden on digital reporting to reflect the differing economic conditions and levels of VAT fraud. Secondly, mandatory intra-community supplies (ICS) – sales across EU state borders – e-invoicing to EN 16931, and e-invoicing will supersede paper-invoices except in limited cases.
This will lead to an estimated €11 billion per annum (€111 billion over ten years) in additional VAT revenues. There should be further gains of €4bn per annum (€41.4 billion over 10 years) in savings for businesses from pre-filled VAT returns, ending recapitulative statements and general e-invoicing savings.
But the estimated costs of implementation will be significant: €11.3bn and €2.2bn for businesses and the tax authorities, respectively.
- Mandatory B2B Intra-community digital reporting requirement (DRR) near-live transaction reporting replacing EC Sales Lists summaries
- Intra-community supplies (ISC) and acquisition digital reporting regime will be introduced for all companies, including non-residents, from 2028. This data will be submitted first to the national tax authorities for immediate consolidation in a common EU database with endpoints. However, no reporting technical details for passing transaction data to a central database has yet been confirmed and will remain flexible for member states but comply with Implementation Decision (EU) 2017/1870.
- A new ‘Central VIES’ central database will be overseen and maintained by the EC, and will include DDR transactions and ID info of taxpayers, including their VAT identification number. It will also have some integration into the Customs Surveillance system and the upcoming Central Electronic System of Payment CESOP information.
- There will be a header-level transaction reporting schema based on the European standard for e-invoicing (EN 16931) and so following exiting B2G initiatives. For data protection law reasons, not all the invoice information will be reported. And no pre-clearance of invoices, but Continuous Transaction Control CTC
- However, since tax authorities will be able to cross-check sales and purchase information in the central database to identify fraud, this is not necessary.
- It will also give transparency for customers to see what intra-EU transactions are being reported against their VAT numbers. This will help prevent them potentially being caught-up in VAT frauds unaware. This may be enabled by a common EC endpoint.
- Reporting frequency will be within two working days of a chargeable event – so not real-time. The VAT Directive therefore will be amended from the current 45-day limit for invoicing intra-community supplies. Taxpayers may submit the information directly or via 3rd party.
- It would only apply to B2B transactions – intra-community B2C will be excluded for the time being.
- Following EN 16931 will help encourage adoption of the standard by all countries for their domestic digital reporting requirements, improving interoperability and reducing costs for taxpayers since it will be a subset of the above e-invoicing requirements.
- The introduction of the new intra-community reporting regime will enable the withdrawal of EC Sales Lists (ESL), known as recapitulative statements.
- Mandatory intra-community E-invoicing; domestic transactions left to member states’ local plans
- All businesses will be obliged to be able to issue and receive e-invoices for ICS’s based on European standard for e-invoicing (EN 16931) for intra-community supplies. This will be a structured e-invoice format (XML; UBL; PDF/A3 etc) and not PDF’s.
- Further data will be added to existing invoicing information including: IBAN number (or other identifier) of supplier’s account that will receive payment; Payment due date; and if invoice correction.
- Jan 2024: For domestic transactions, member states will be free to remove the obligation for customers to accept e-invoicing from their suppliers to help adoption of domestic e-invoicing.
- States will also no longer have to seek EU approval for mandatory domestic e-invoicing as per the current Article 232 of the VAT Directive. This will require a VAT Directive amendment, Article 218, that electronic invoicing will be the default system for the issuance of invoices. The use of paper invoices will only be possible in situations where Member States authorise them. Summary invoices would also be ended.
- Member states may still adopt their own formats, but will be encouraged to follow or converge towards EN 16931 to help with long-term harmonisation of EU reporting systems. It is therefore not clear yet if or what role there will be for PEPPOL or e-invoicing agents for transmission of e-invoices at the national level. The key requirement is that they are interoperable with the EU plans.
- Jan 2028: Member states will not allowed to use pre-clearance authorisation (mandatory authorisation or verification) on e-invoices. However, where already implemented, e.g. Italy, this may continue until January 2028.
- Member states with existing domestic digital transaction reporting regime will have to converge by 1 January 2028.
2 VAT treatment of the platform economy – Jan 2025
- Extension of the deemed supplier VAT obligations to short-term accommodation and transport economies platforms which represent over 70% of the platform economy when excluding goods (so gig & sharing economies).
- This recognises the major market distortions for traditional hotel operators and taxi operators who must charge VAT today, and so ensure a level playing field between traditional and digital channels.
- This will exclude transactions under the special scheme for travel engines (TOMS) which is under a separate modernisation review.
- This will raise an estimated €6bn per annum, or €66bn in VAT for member states between 2023-32.
- Other areas of the gig & sharing economies may be included in the future. These include professional and manual services, ‘click work’, crowdfunding and P2P lending. But the VAT and difficulties with small entrepreneurs operating in these sectors mean this will happen at a later date.
- This measure is highly complex, and there was heavy reluctance from the digital platforms. They believed their business models, with multiple parties in the supply chain, are too complex for simplistic division of VAT liabilities. However, some tourist-popular states pushed for the full liability model for platforms. This makes any ratification and implementation timing difficult to predict.
- Alongside the DAC7 marketplace reporting reforms, there will be improved definition and clarifications of the players and roles in the digital marketplace sphere, and standardisation of information requirements.
- In particular, definitions around the taxation of fees charged as there are many inconsistencies between member states leading to double or no taxation. Also clarification that the VAT exemption does not apply to short-term rental as some countries have not correctly applied this.
- These measures will save an estimated €480m per annum.
3 Single VAT Registration (SVR) and extension of marketplace deemed supplier to EU sellers – Jan 2025
- The e-commerce package success of One-Stop-Shop VAT return for distance selling will be extended to movements of own stock by e-commerce sellers prior to B2C e-commerce sale (B2B2C transactions).
- The SVR will enable businesses to charge, report and manage their entire EU VAT through their domestic tax authorities, including eventually the entire audit process.
- The stock movement remains taxable with two transactions – arrival and sale. Both would be reported in the OSS, which would need additional information added to be reported to the member state of indentification (where OSS is registered).
- This will eliminate the need for hundreds of thousands of foreign VAT registrations for e-commerce sellers. The EC estimates that managing each single foreign registration costs €5,000 per annum for businesses. This change in total will cut sellers’ cost by €800m per annum or €8.7bn between 2023-32 estimates the EC.
- Extension of deemed supplier: Where this is facilitated by a marketplace, the VAT on the local domestic sale to the consumer will flip to the marketplace as the deemed supplier. The exception is sales in the country where the seller is resident.
- This is irrespective of where the seller is established, meaning an extension from the 2021 e-commerce package for just non-EU to include EU sellers. This will level the playing field.
- The seller will use OSS to report the zero-rated taxable acquisition to the marketplace. B2B transactions under the scenario would be zero-rated for VAT. The disadvantage of this option is that it would favour sellers using marketplaces and penalise own website sales which would still be responsible for the domestic VAT reporting.
OSS Special scheme for movement of own goods
- Plus, under OSS for other own stock movements there will be a special scheme within OSS. The intra-Community acquisition of goods in the Member State where the goods are dispatched or transported to, is exempt. This must be supported by detailed records. The existing call-off stock provisions of the EU VAT Directive will therefore be withdrawn from 1 January 2025 for new movements as no longer required with OSS. Existing stocks already held in call-off stock will still follow the current rules until 31 December 2025.
- There will be ring fence exceptions with right of deduction e.g. cars; capital goods; and non-saleable company assets.
- The current €10,000 pan-EU distance selling threshold will be limited to where the seller is established. So they may not use it a second+ time if they hold stocks in other member state territories.
- In addition, traditional cross-border services where the seller is not resident will be added to OSS option, which includes: Installation and assemble of goods; goods made on board means of transport; goods supplied at exhibition or trade fairs; goods at weekly markets; and local hire of transport.
- Purely B2B transactions are not included for the time being in this extension because of the complexities of right of VAT deduction and fraud risks. Instead a change to reverse charge for non-established sellersrules to reduce the instances of foreign VAT registrations.
IOSS updates – Jan 2025
- There were three important modifications considered for the Import One-Stop-Shop which was introduced under the 2021 e-Commerce VAT Package:
- The current €150 consignment threshold for imported B2C sales will NOT be raised in the immediate future. It will likely be postponed until the Customs processes and requirement can be reformed, too.
- However, this threshold likely to be scrapped in 2028 with EU Customs reforms
- IOSS will be mandated for marketplaces to cut down fraud and errors.
- As an anti-fraud measure, a link between IOSS numbers and consignment stocks
- Other quick fix improvements to IOSS double taxation issues are included.