It’s been just over nine months since the introduction of one of the biggest changes in EU VAT rules for e-commerce retailers, the E-Commerce VAT Package extending the One Stop Shop (OSS) and introducing the Import One Stop Shop (IOSS).
The goal of the EU E-commerce VAT Package is to simplify cross-border B2C trade in the EU, easing the burden on businesses, reducing the administrative costs of VAT compliance and ensuring that VAT is correctly charged on such sales.
Under the new rules, the country specific distance selling thresholds for goods were removed and replaced with an EU wide threshold of €10,000 for EU established businesses and non-EU established businesses now have no threshold. For many businesses this means VAT is due in all countries they sell to, requiring them to be VAT registered in many more countries than pre-July 2021. However, the introduction of the Union OSS allowed them to simplify their VAT obligations by allowing them to report VAT on all EU sales under the one OSS return.
How the EU E-commerce VAT Package has affected businesses
Whilst for many businesses the thought of having to charge VAT in all countries they sell to may have been overwhelming to begin with, they are now seeing the many benefits that the introduction of OSS was meant to achieve. The biggest benefit for businesses is the simplification of VAT compliance requirements with one quarterly VAT return as opposed to meeting many filing and payment deadlines in different EU Member States.
Businesses who outsource their VAT compliance have been able to reduce their costs significantly by deregistering from the VAT regime in many Member States where they were previously VAT registered. Although some additional registrations may be required depending on specific supply chains and location of stock around the EU. Businesses also receive a cash flow benefit under the OSS regime as VAT is due on a quarterly basis as opposed to a monthly or bi-monthly basis as was the case previously in many Member States. As part of the implementation of the EU E-Commerce VAT Package we also saw the removal of low value consignment relief, which meant import VAT was due on all goods coming into the EU. This has brought many non-EU suppliers into the EU’s VAT regime with the European Commission (EC) announcing that there are currently over 8,000 registered traders.
We have seen some early hiccups with EU Member States not recognizing IOSS numbers upon import, leading to double taxation for some sellers. But for the majority of businesses IOSS has enabled them to streamline the sale of goods to EU customers for orders below €150. The EC has also recently hailed the initial success of this scheme by releasing preliminary figures which show that €1.9 billion in VAT revenues has been collected to date.
The future of OSS and IOSS
The EC is currently undergoing a consultation, gathering feedback from stakeholders on how the new schemes have performed with a view to making potential changes. Some of the changes being discussed include making the IOSS scheme mandatory for all businesses, which would significantly widen its use as it brings significantly more traders into scope. There has also been talk of increasing the current €150 threshold which would allow more consignments to be eligible for IOSS, although with the current customs duties threshold also being €150 it would be interesting to see how they align these rules. The EC will also be publishing proposals later in the year on the possible extension of the OSS to include B2B goods transactions, with a view to implementing this by 2024.