The EU e-Commerce VAT Package is nearly six months old and businesses should have submitted their first Union One Stop Shop (OSS) return by the end of October 2021. Union OSS provides a welcome simplification to the requirement to be registered for VAT in multiple Member States when making intra-EU B2C supplies of goods and services.
Whilst a simplification, there are several conditions that need to be met on an ongoing basis to continues its use. The European Commission produced a number of guides on the application of Union OSS prior to its introduction which provided guidance on its operation. However, there are still several questions about how Union OSS interacts with other compliance obligations in place for e-commerce sellers around the EU.
Union OSS – interaction with Intrastat
Intrastat is the EU’s mechanism to provide details of intra-EU trade in the absence of customs borders. It’s made up of two components: dispatches declarations submitted in the Member State where the transport starts and arrivals declarations in the Member State of delivery.
E-commerce businesses selling intra-EU goods have long had to comply with Intrastat obligations when they exceeded the reporting thresholds. For lots of businesses an obligation arose in the Member State from where the goods are dispatched given that goods were delivered to multiple other EU countries, so thresholds were often exceeded.
In addition, larger e-commerce sellers also had obligations to submit arrivals declarations in the country of delivery of the goods even though they were not the purchaser of the goods. The very largest may also have had obligations to submit dispatches declarations in the Member State of their customer because of returned goods.
There is no mention of Intrastat in any of the European Commission’s guides about OSS so no guidance is provided on how it will apply when a business adopts Union OSS. Furthermore, many Member States do not currently seem to have a finalised position on the interaction with Union OSS.
The position in the Member State of dispatch of the goods seems clear but there are potentially complexities when goods are dispatched from more than one Member State especially if there is no VAT registration in that country. Whilst this is unlikely, there are circumstances where no VAT registration is required or even allowed.
The real complexity is with regards to Intrastat arrivals declarations. The principle of Union OSS is that no VAT registration is required in the Member State of the customer for intra-EU supplies. There may be other reasons for a VAT registration there but for many e-commerce sellers, they will not have to be registered in the Member State of delivery.
This raises the question of whether arrivals declarations are required in those territories. Some Intrastat authorities have provided guidance and those that have are taking different routes. Some are clear it is not required for arrivals when using Union OSS whilst others still require declarations to be made even though there is no local VAT registration in place.
We continue to monitor the situation and will update further as more information is available.
Unions OSS and other declarations
E-commerce sellers of goods can have other compliance and tax obligations in the countries to which they deliver goods. These include meeting local country rules with regards to environmental taxes. For example in Romania there is a requirement for e-commerce sellers to submit Environmental Fund returns even if the business has opted to use Union OSS. This creates complexity as the Romanian VAT number is normally used to file the returns. A separate registration seems to be possible to ensure compliance with the environmental regulations.
There is also potentially an issue in Hungary with the retail tax that is payable by businesses with a turnover in excess of HUF 500 million. There is still a liability to pay the tax even if there is no VAT registration because of Union OSS. Affected businesses will need to ensure that they remain compliant.
Teething problems can be expected with any new regime but there is an argument that some of these should have been predicted and clear guidance provided, especially for Intrastat. It is clear that some authorities have not considered the matter at all prior to Union OSS’s introduction. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates when more information is available.