2021 amendment to VAT Act introduces deemed supplier concept

The VAT position of electronic interface operators will change dramatically from 1 July 2021. In connection with a planned amendment to the VAT Act relating to e-commerce, individual e-shops ensuring the sale of goods from foreign suppliers will have to assess whether they are operating as deemed suppliers.

From 1 July 2021, platforms (electronic interfaces, portals, e-shops) facilitating distance sales of goods will become deemed suppliers for VAT purposes where specific taxable supplies are concerned. This also affects the responsibilities for the payment of VAT on such transactions and keeping relevant records. Decisive criteria include the parameters of the given platform, the status of the original supplier, and the place from which goods are dispatched. Any restrictions to the platform’s responsibilities will be subject to strict criteria and will only apply to the potential difference between the VAT amount paid and the VAT amount set by law.

The key question is whether the platform facilitates distance sales of imported goods of low value (i.e. goods whose value does not exceed EUR 150) or distance sales of goods to end customers by suppliers not established in the EU.

The EU Council’s Regulation implementing the VAT Directive provides a negative definition of platforms (e-shops) that facilitate the sale of goods and may become deemed suppliers. Specifically: only a platform (or e-shop) that at the same time fulfils all the three conditions below shall not become a deemed supplier for selected sales.

The platform (e-shop):

  • does not set, directly or indirectly, any of the terms and conditions under which the sale is effected
  • is not involved, directly or indirectly, in authorising the fee charged for the sale
  • is not involved, directly or indirectly, in ordering or delivering the goods.

E-shops that only process payments, advertise goods or redirect those interested in goods to other electronic interfaces shall also not become deemed suppliers.

The above parameters are specified in more detail in the European Commission’s Explanatory Notes, the Czech translation of which has already been mentioned to you in our previous issues of the Tax and Legal Update. Despite the availability of a list of illustrative examples in the notes, the decision whether a platform actually facilitates any relevant sales will not be easy.

Information about how platforms should deal with VAT in this respect will be published in the next issue of our Tax and Legal Update.

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