Unlocking VAT Recovery: Guidelines, Deadlines and Essentials

Michail Konstantinou
May 9, 2024

Following a webinar covering regulatory updates alongside key points of the VAT recovery process, this blog aims to shed light on the crucial aspects of VAT recovery – especially fast-approaching deadlines.

Understanding the nuances of VAT recovery applications is essential for businesses seeking to optimize operational costs by recovering VAT incurred in a different country. Let’s explore the fundamental aspects of the VAT recovery process.

The VAT recovery process

Businesses can reclaim VAT incurred during their operations through VAT returns if registered in the country where costs are incurred. However, for those not registered and with no obligation to do as such, alternative routes such as the EU Refund Claim or 13th Directive procedure are available – provided specific criteria are met.

Before initiating a VAT refund claim, companies must carefully evaluate their taxable activities. Failure to identify taxable activity in the relevant country may result in the rejection of the VAT recovery application. In such cases, registering for VAT becomes imperative to facilitate input VAT recovery through VAT returns, subject to each country’s rules regarding retrospective VAT registration.

Recoverable expenses

The range of recoverable expenses varies across countries, encompassing equipment, tooling, event costs, professional fees, accommodation and so on. However, due to varying regulations, conducting a comprehensive recoverability assessment based on each country’s VAT legislation is crucial before applying.

Meeting deadlines

Adhering to deadlines is critical for successful VAT recovery.

EU businesses seeking VAT refunds from other Member States must submit an EU Refund Directive application by 30 September of the subsequent calendar year. Non-EU businesses aiming to reclaim VAT incurred in EU Member States should file a 13th Directive application by 30 June of the following year.

While some countries share a common deadline of 30 September, missing deadlines may restrict refund requests. Notably, even though in most cases, these deadlines cannot be extended, there are countries like the Netherlands where refund requests can be submitted to tax authorities up to five years back rather than just for the previous fiscal year.

Understanding reciprocity

Reciprocity agreements are pivotal in VAT refund claims, with most EU Member States mandating reciprocity. Understanding these laws is essential to avoid failed attempts at reclaiming VAT in non-reciprocal jurisdictions.

Recent updates include the UK-Italy agreement under the 13th VAT Directive, streamlining VAT refund claims for UK businesses. Notably, the deadline for a 13th directive application in Italy is September 30th, 2024, for all costs incurred during 2023 (i.e., purchase invoices dated in 2023). This represents a significant advancement toward streamlined cross-border VAT recovery processes for UK businesses. Additionally, it may be advantageous for businesses to revisit already submitted 13th Directive claims in Italy that were previously on hold due to the lack of reciprocity.

In conclusion, mastering the intricacies of VAT recovery empowers businesses to enhance financial efficiency and mitigate costs effectively. By navigating the essentials outlined above, businesses can embark on a journey toward unlocking their full VAT recovery potential.

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Michail Konstantinou

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