New Place of Supply Rules for Virtual Attendance of Events

David Stokes
May 10, 2022

Events and conferences typically take a long time to organise and in the early part of 2020 several events that were scheduled to take place were impossible because of the various Covid-19 restrictions. Looking at a loss of revenue, and not knowing how long restrictions would last, many hosts went online and hosted virtual events. This changed both the nature and the place of the supply.

  • Current VAT position regarding events with physical attendance

Where there is physical attendance at an event then the place of supply is the place where the event takes place for all delegates.

  • Current VAT position regarding events with virtual attendance

For B2B delegates the current rules mean that virtual admission will be classified as a general rule service so VAT is due where the customer is established.

For B2C delegates the current rules depend on whether the virtual attendance can be considered an electronically delivered service or a general rule service. For electronically delivered services supplied the place of supply is where the customer normally resides and for other services the place of supply is where the supplier is established.

An electronically delivered service is one which can be delivered without any human intervention such as downloading and watching a pre-recorded presentation. Where a service requires human intervention, this is not considered to be electronically delivered.

Online conferences and events typically have a host or compere and will normally also allow delegates to ask questions in real-time via live chat or similar. The human dimension excludes the possibility of this being classified as an electronically delivered service which means that for B2B the place of supply is where the customer is established and for B2C the place of supply is where the host is established.

Future tax position regarding events with virtual attendance

The changes are being introduced to ensure taxation in the Member State of consumption. To achieve this, it is necessary for all services that can be supplied to a customer by electronic means to be taxable at the place where the customer is established, has his permanent address or usually resides. This means that it is necessary to modify the rules governing the place of supply of services relating to such activities.

The changes apply to “services that can be supplied by electronic means” but this is not defined. It would appear, from the following to be wider than “electronically delivered”.

To achieve this the current law governing attendance by B2B delegates which results in VAT being due where the event is held will specifically exclude admission where the attendance is virtual.

This suggests that “supplied to a customer by electronic means” occurs when attendance is virtual and has the effect of removing the distinction of “human intervention” in respect of electronically delivered services.

The law governing B2C sales will state that where activities are “streamed or otherwise made virtually available”, the place of supply is where the customer is established.

These changes suggest that “supplied to a customer by electronic means” occurs when the service is streamed or made virtually available. The possibility of streaming (which can be live or recorded) does not appear in the amendment to the B2B rule.

The law governing Use and Enjoyment has also been updated to reflect these additions.

Summary of virtual attendance of events – implications for VAT compliance

For events that are attended virtually the place of supply for both B2B and B2C will be where the customer is established, although this can be amended by application of the Use and Enjoyment rules.

For B2B attendees, the host will not charge local VAT as the reverse charge will apply unless the host and attendee are established in the same Member State.

For B2C attendees the host will charge local VAT according to the location of the attendee. The Union and non-Union OSS will be available to assist reporting where the attendee is in the EU.

Transposition

Member States are required to adopt and publish the required laws, regulations and administrative provisions by 31 December 2024 and must apply these from 1 January 2025.

In our next blog we will consider some practical issues that may arise from these changes and how they impact VAT compliance.

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Get in touch to discuss your VAT compliance needs or download our guide, Understanding VAT Obligations: European Events.

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Author

David Stokes

As an FCCA of many years, David brings a commercially focused accounting perspective to the treatment of European VAT issues. He specialises in the understanding of cross-border VAT transactions and has helped many clients map their flows to optimise their VAT position. He has successfully completed the VAT Forum’s ‘Expert in European VAT’ course and is a partner of the forum. As well as advising clients David also sits on several technology product development teams at Sovos.
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