Our previous articles covered audit trends we have noticed at Sovos and common triggers of a VAT audit. This article discusses the best practices on how to prepare for a VAT audit.

Each country and jurisdiction may have different laws and requirements related to the VAT audit process. Tax authorities can carry out audits in person or by correspondence, the latter often being the case for non-established businesses in the country in question.

A business may be audited at random or because there are reasons for the tax authority to believe that there is a problem with the company’s VAT return.

Generally speaking, authorities use audits and inspections to verify the accuracy of taxpayers’ declarations, identify possible errors or underpayments, and approve refunds.

As discussed in our previous article, to understand how to best prepare for a VAT audit, it’s essential to identify the reason why the audit was initiated.

What items are needed for a VAT audit?

Although specific checklists are available depending on the country of the audit, there are several actions that a business can carry out to prepare for an VAT audit. The most important of which is to collect documents and answers in advance. Frequently requested items during an audit include:

It is important that records of the above-listed documents, where applicable, are kept in line with local record keeping requirements. The need to prepare these documents in advance and the ability to produce them quickly becomes essential when a company is, for example, due to request the refund of VAT credits, to submit a de-registration or has, in general, any reason to expect for an audit to be initiated.

Authorities can open a cross check of activities with the company’s customers and suppliers, which will be initiated in parallel to the audit to verify that the information provided from both sides is consistent. Therefore, it is recommended to inform suppliers about any ongoing audit, communicate any questions or clarify outstanding queries. If, for example, a correction of invoices appears to be necessary, these should be finalised already in preparation for the VAT audit.

The tax authorities may impose very short and strict deadlines once an audit is initiated. Although it may be possible to request an extension, it is not necessarily guaranteed to be granted. In certain circumstances, authorities may impose penalties for late responses. Providing a clear and understandable set of documents to the tax office queries is essential to avoid any detrimental effects.

Why it makes sense to plan ahead

The advantages of preparing for a VAT audit can be summarised as follows:

Whether a business decides to handle the audit in-house or request the support of an external advisor, it is essential to consider the consequences of the audit, especially if high amounts of VAT to recover are at stake. In the event of an audit, the main objective should be to resolve it successfully and quickly, limiting as much as possible any detrimental impact to the business.

Take Action

Get in touch about the benefits a managed service provider can offer to help ease your VAT compliance burden.

The most recent update to the Portuguese Stamp Duty system has included some of the most comprehensive tax reporting changes seen in recent years. Stamp Duty is the oldest tax in Portugal and has been around since the Royal Decree in 1660. Considering its age, updates to bring it in line with the global standard of tax reporting were much needed. Although the tax rates within Portugal have remained unchanged, the reporting process to incorporate the provincial liabilities within one return has been greatly appreciated.

Required information

The additional information that insurers are obliged to collect, disclose and submit in their Stamp Duty Declaration is as follows:

Negative impacts of these changes

It’s important to note that the ability to offset taxes relating to previous periods has been revoked by Law Decree no. 119/2019, which allowed insurers to report reduced tax amounts for overpaid liabilities. The modifications to the reporting procedure enable companies to amend previous periods through their internal system. Consequently, this permits adjustments to prior periods and the reclaiming of overdeclared liabilities directly from the Portuguese tax authority. It is our understanding that reclaims will be reimbursed to the client two months after an amended return is submitted.

How can Sovos help with reporting?

Sovos has developed a unique relationship with the Portuguese tax authority, allowing for comprehensive reporting between Sovos systems and the Portuguese API. The reporting procedure can confirm validated IDs to ease data validation and reporting. This collaborative process has allowed Sovos to provide our customers with a smoother and more fluid submission process for Stamp Duty reporting.

Take Action

To understand more about Portugal’s Stamp Duty and how it impacts your IPT compliance, get in touch with our team of experts.

Learn more about the latest rates, rules and regulation of Insurance Premium Tax in our e-book, IPT Compliance – A Guide for Insurers.

There are many taxes (IPT) and parafiscal charges levied on insurance premiums throughout Europe. As a consequence of the lack of tax harmonisation, no general rules can be applied to establish which taxes exist in which countries and how to calculate the correct IPT amounts.

Some insurers do not have a dedicated IPT team; this is usually the case with smaller insurers. This could lead to IPT miscalculation and can trigger penalties. Without the proper and up-to-date knowledge, it is easy to be lost in the rules and regulations.

The following blog gives an overview of the tax calculation methods highlighting some unique elements of the IPT calculation.

Tax calculations methods

There are two basic tax calculation methods in the European IPT world

  1. Percentage of the premium
  2. Fixed amounts

In the first instance, there is a tax rate. For example in Bulgaria (2%) businesses can easily determine the tax amount by multiplying the taxable basis with this tax rate. Fortunately, several IPT calculations are based on this so-called basic rate model.

While in the second case, the local regulations determine the tax amount which needs to be settled on the insurance policies. Irish Stamp Duty can be mentioned as an example.

One can say that this is not rocket science. Furthermore, it is easy. These calculation models are just the basics. IPT regulations are built on these basic models adding several specific rules making the IPT calculations fairly complex. Here are some examples of these specific rules:

Reverse tax calculation

To add further colour to this topic, we can mention that reversing a policy line in the calculation does not always result in the same tax amount in a negative position. The best example is Malta, where the same amount of Stamp Duty is not refunded when the policy is cancelled after the cooling-off period. Instead of getting back the same stamp duty paid, an additional EUR 2.33 Stamp duty is triggered if certain conditions are met.

Although this is a unique regulation this highlights that when it comes to reversing a policy line, it is strongly recommended to check the rules beforehand and clarify whether or not the negative IPT can be offset or reclaimed and adjust the calculation method accordingly.

Take Action

IPT calculation requires detailed knowledge of the rules and regulations. Sovos has a dedicated team of compliance experts to walk you through even the most challenging calculations. Contact our team today.

In 2019, the Portuguese government enacted Law Decree n. 28/2019, introducing a full reform of the rules concerning the issuance, processing and archiving of invoices, with the main goals of implementing electronic invoicing, simplifying compliance for taxpayers and reducing the VAT gap.

The expanded scope of those obliged to use a billing software certified by the Portuguese Tax Authority, the inclusion of a QR code and a sequential unique number code (ATCUD – código único de documento) and the stricter integrity and authenticity requirements when issuing invoices and other relevant fiscal documents were some of the most impactful mandates introduced by this law.

However, many taxpayers struggled to comply with the new requirements. As such, the tax authority has delayed the launch of different components of the Decree, and some of them remain to be implemented.

In a recent Ministerial Decision from 26 May 2022, the goal line for implementing the stricter integrity and authenticity requirement, this article’s focal point, has been moved yet again, now to 1 January 2023.

The stricter integrity and authenticity requirement

The Decree from 2019 established that in order to guarantee the requirements of authenticity and integrity of electronic invoices and other relevant fiscal documents have been met (per article 233 of the EU VAT Directive 2006/112/EC), taxpayers must use a qualified electronic signature, a qualified electronic seal (QES) or an electronic data exchange system (EDI) with security measures per the European Model EDI Agreement. This change is important as it limits the choice of compliance methods generally recognised within the EU to one between only QES and EDI.

To achieve this goal, the Decree determined that taxpayers would only be able to use previously accepted advanced electronic signatures or seals (the lower level of signature security) until 31 December 2020. After that, all invoices would be required to incorporate a qualified signature or seal or be issued through EDI.

When is the new deadline?

The original deadline for implementing the stricter integrity and authenticity requirements has been postponed many times. The first delay was ordained through Despacho n. 437/2020-XXII of 9 November 2020 of the State Secretary for Fiscal Matters (SEAF – Secretário de Estado dos Assuntos Fiscais). According to this, PDF invoices without a QES would be accepted until 31 March 2021 and considered electronic invoices for all fiscal purposes.

Since then, the mandate has been postponed four additional times, with the last one taking place on 26 May 2022, by Despacho n. 49/2022-XXIII of the SEAF. According to this act, PDF invoices with no specific security measures must be recognised as electronic invoices for fiscal effects until 31 December 2022, instead of the previously established date, 30 June 2022.

Therefore, from 1 January 2023, taxpayers covered by Law Decree n. 28/2019 must comply with the requirement to ensure authenticity and integrity either by applying a Qualified Electronic Signature/Seal or by using “EDI by-the-book” (EDI under the European Model EDI Agreement).

Additional upcoming requirements

Besides the stricter authenticity and integrity requirement, taxpayers must be ready to comply with additional new invoicing mandates underway in Portugal. On 1 July 2022, it will be required to only use structured electronic invoices in CIUS-PT format for B2G transactions. The B2G mandatory e-invoicing is already under implementation through a phased roll-out. It is set to be finalised and become compulsory for small and medium companies and microenterprises on 1 July 2022. Furthermore, the inclusion of the ATCUD code on invoices and other fiscal relevant documents, which has also been previously postponed, is set to become mandatory on 1 January 2023.

Take Action

Need to ensure compliance with the latest e-invoicing requirements in Portugal? Get in touch with Sovos’ tax experts.

Since becoming the first EU country to make electronic invoicing mandatory through a clearance process in 2019, Italy has kept a steady pace in improving its continuous transaction controls (CTC) system to close the gaps in VAT compliance.

Over recent years, Italy has gradually expanded its system by introducing various mandates. The following changes reflect the government’s efforts to tie up loose ends and assert more far-reaching control mechanisms to achieve an efficient and well-rounded system.

The changes listed below become effective on 1 July 2022, with some already available on a voluntary basis and others allowing a short grace period for adjustment.

Mandatory cross-border invoice reporting through the SDI

The retirement of the tax reporting scheme, Esterometro, will require Italian taxpayers to report all cross-border transactions through the Sistema di Interscambio (SDI). Since the clearance of cross-border invoices is not within the Italian CTC system’s scope, this is a clear step towards centralisation.

Taxpayers may continue to exchange invoices in any agreed way, including the FatturaPA format. The reporting, however, must be done through the SDI using the FatturaPA format. This has been optional since January 2022.

New taxpayers in scope for the e-invoicing mandate

Italy has recently expanded the scope of its e-invoicing mandate bringing in new groups of taxpayers:

A short grace period has been established from 1 July 2022 until 30 September 2022. During this period these taxpayers may issue e-invoices within the following month from when they carried out the transaction without any penalties being applied.

The new mandate also states that microenterprises with revenues or fees up to €25,000 per year will be required to issue and clear e-invoices with the SDI, but this only starts in January 2024.

Mandatory e-invoicing between Italy and San Marino

Following the Italian CTC mandate, Italy and San Marino began negotiations to accommodate invoice exchange between the two countries through the more modern clearance-based system, which requires taxpayers to issue and clear e-invoices using the FatturaPA format. This was established by creating a “four-corner” model with the Italian SDI as the access point for Italian taxpayers and the HUB-SM platform as the SDI counterpart on San Marino’s side.

The mandate covers the sale of goods shipped to San Marino for taxpayers who are residents, established or identified in Italy. For sales of goods to Italy, an e-invoice must be issued by the economic operators with identification attributed to them by the Republic of San Marino. A significant effect of this mandate is that the reporting obligations through Esterometro will come to an end.

The voluntary transition phase started in October 2021.

Getting ready for change

The start of the second semester of 2022 will bring significant changes, and taxpayers have limited time to conform as July approaches. Understanding how these new requirements can affect your company will ensure compliance and avoid unnecessary mistakes.

Take Action

Speak to our team if you have any questions about the latest e-invoicing requirements in Italy. Sovos has more than a decade of experience keeping clients up to date with e-invoicing mandates all over the world.

Saudi Arabia´s e-invoicing system is being rolled out in two phases; the second phase’s requirements differ from the first phase. The first phase started as of 4 December 2021 for all resident taxable persons. The second phase will go live on 1 January 2023, and the impacted taxpayer group has not yet been announced. However, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA) has made considerable progress in kicking off phase 2.

Launch of the e-invoicing portal

Phase 2 will introduce a Continuous Transaction Controls (CTC) regime in which e-invoices, electronic credit and debit notes will be transmitted to the ZATCA platform in real-time. A clearance regime is prescribed for B2B invoices, while B2C invoices must be reported to the tax authority platform within 24 hours of issuance. Therefore, ZATCA was expected to introduce its e-invoicing platform well in advance of the launch of phase 2.

As expected, the ZATCA recently announced the launch of an E-Invoicing Developer Portal (Sandbox). Users will use the Sandbox to simulate the integration with ZATCA’s platform and can access details on the APIs and other requirements through this platform upon registration.

Proposed changes to e-invoicing rules

ZATCA has proposed specific changes to e-invoicing rules. The proposed changes are under public consultation and interested parties may submit their feedback until 10 June 2022.

The changes aim to clarify some requirements (e.g. Cryptographic Stamp, hash, counter etc.) rather than introducing new ones.

The next steps

The last clarifying changes to the e-invoicing rules are underway, and the developer portal has been launched. We’re now expecting ZATCA’s announcement of the taxpayer groups in the scope of the mandate and expect it to happen at least six months before the go-live date. As the ZATCA plans to roll out phase 2, there will be different timelines for different taxpayer groups. We expect this information within the coming months.

Take Action

Need to ensure compliance with the latest CTC requirements in Saudi Arabia? Get in touch with Sovos’ team of tax experts.

Israel E-Invoicing

Plans for a continuous transaction controls system

In an effort to combat VAT fraud, Israel is undergoing a tax reform. Currently under an EU-based post-audit approach, Israeli authorities have announced their ambition to move towards the more Latin American-style of continuous transaction controls (CTCs) where invoices are approved prior to their issuance. The details of the proposed system, as well as a timeline for roll-out, have yet to be published.

Get the information you need

CTC Reforms

Israel is currently in the process of moving away from a post-audit approach to VAT. We expect to learn more about the details of the new CTC regime in the near future.

Quick Facts

  • E-invoicing is currently permitted in Israel provided it’s prominently stated on the invoice that it is a ‘computerized document’
  • A digital signature is required to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the invoice
  • Storage of e-invoices must be within Israel unless derogation has been granted. This rule also applies to the mandatory backups
  • Outsourcing of archiving also requires derogation

Need help to ensure your business stays compliant with evolving CTC obligations in Israel?

Our experts continually monitor, interpret and codify complex legal and technical changes into our software solutions, keeping you up-to-date and reducing the compliance burden on your tax and IT teams. Learn how Sovos’ VAT solutions help companies stay compliant in Israel and around the world.

Meet the Expert is our series of blogs where we share more about the team behind our innovative software and managed services.

As a global organisation with indirect tax experts across all regions, our dedicated team are often the first to know about new regulatory changes and the latest developments on tax regimes across the world, to support you in your tax compliance.

We spoke to Hooda Greig, compliance services manager about ways insurers can make the Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) process more efficient.

Can you tell me about your role and what it involves?

I lead an IPT team that delivers compliance services in Europe. I oversee the day-to-day management and delivery of IPT compliance for an extensive portfolio of global clients. We are the first point of contact between Sovos and our clients. My focus is ensuring all tax requirements for the clients are met, that is filing and paying their liabilities to the various territories they are registered in. I also work closely with other departments within our company, particularly our consulting team to assist with more technical aspects of IPT compliance.

How can insurers make the IPT process more efficient? What are your top tips?

Modernising the tax process will help insurers operate efficiently. There are still many insurers reliant on manual reporting methods for IPT. Strategic management of the end-to-end process is key to improving efficiencies, with a focus on managing risks by investing in digitization. Tax technology tools will make compliance for insurers simple, as will collaborating with tax teams with specialised IPT knowledge at a local level.

My top tip to manage risk is the use of tax technology. Tax authorities are introducing more demanding reporting requirements and digitization of filing and reporting processes can result in efficiency, accuracy, and cost reductions.

What are some of the issues insurers face with IPT?

Efficiency, accuracy, and the costs of getting it wrong are concerns for insurers. The consequences of IPT non-compliance are not limited to statutory or legal penalties, the indirect costs to insurers are often more significant, the cost of correcting a mistake and non-compliance could also have an impact on the company’s reputation. Tax authorities are becoming more stringent in their reporting requirements. It’s important for insurers to work closely with a managed services team to help meet all their tax obligations and in preparation for future IPT requirements to ensure compliance now and in the future.

How can Sovos help insurers with their IPT requirements?

To minimise risks, we’re seeing an increasing number of insurers looking to technology solutions to change the way they operate. Sovos’ mission is to solve tax for good and we specialise in tax technology and data analysis with specialised knowledge at a local level, ensuring insurers’ compliance requirements are met. Keeping abreast of all regulatory changes can be difficult, Sovos issues regular tax alerts, newsletters and hosts webinars to keep clients up to date with the latest IPT updates.

Take Action

Have questions about IPT compliance? Speak to our experts or download our e-book, Indirect Tax Rules for Insurance Across the World.

It’s no surprise that inflation is on the forefront of everyone’s mind, with prices continuing to sky-rocket month by month. Data from the United Kingdom shows that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation jumped to a 40-year high of 9% in the past 12 months. Governments around the world are looking for ways to reduce the burden for consumers to keep global economies afloat. One method – implementing VAT rate cuts to certain goods and services – looks to be coming out on top as multiple countries around the world announced emergency budget sessions or introduced proposals to temporarily cut VAT rates.

Temporary VAT rate cuts are generally quick and easy to implement, which is why they are favored by governments globally. These cuts essentially allow for a boost to the economy by providing consumers with an overall higher amount to spend, incentivizing consumers to spend now while rates are lower.

Country proposals for VAT rate cuts

As expected, many countries have already announced VAT rate cuts or measures to stimulate their economies:

Additional countries such as Estonia, Netherlands, Latvia, Greece, and Turkey are also taking measures to implement VAT rate cuts to fight the ever-rising costs for consumers.

These VAT rate cuts coincide with new measures passed recently by the European Commission allowing Member States to apply reduced rates to more items, including food. Though many Member States seem to be moving towards taking advantage of this new flexibility on VAT rate reductions, it’s expected that as costs continue to rise more Member States and countries around the world will introduce VAT rate cuts to ensure consumer spending doesn’t continue to trend downward.

Take Action

To find out more about what we believe the future holds, download the 13th Annual Trends. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up-to-date with regulatory news and updates.

Since many audits seem to occur at random, it’s not always possible to identify the reason why a tax office would decide to initiate one.

We’ve previously spoken about an increased interest in audits from the EU and audits for e-commerce. This article covers the most common reasons behind a VAT audit to help businesses anticipate and prepare for one when possible.

Trigger events for VAT audits

There are specific “trigger” events among the most common reasons that could cause further queries from the tax office. Generally speaking, these are changes in the company’s status such as a new registration, a de-registration, or structural changes within the company.

VAT refund requests also fall into this category. In some countries (Italy and Spain, for example) a refund request is almost certainly a reason for an audit to be initiated since the local tax office cannot release the funds before checks are completed. In this case, the likelihood of an audit increases when a refund is particularly substantial and the business requesting it is newly VAT registered. However, it doesn’t mean that the tax authority will not initiate an audit if the amount requested in a refund is relatively small.

Business model

Certain types of businesses are naturally more subject to audits due to their structure and business model. Groups commonly selected for scrutiny include, for example, large companies, exporters, retailers and dealers in high-volume goods. Therefore, elements such as a high number of transactions, high amounts involved and complexity of the business structure could be another common reason for an investigation to be initiated by the local tax authorities.

Taxpayer metrics

Tax authorities often identify individual taxpayers based on past compliance and how their information compares with specific risk parameters. This would include comparing previous data and trading patterns with other businesses in the same sector. Therefore, unusual patterns of trading, discrepancies between input and output VAT reported, and many refund requests may appear unusual from the tax office perspective and give rise to questions.

Cross checks

Another common reason for the tax authorities to request further information from taxpayers is the so-called “cross check of activities”. In this case, either a business supplier or client is likely to be subjected to an audit. The tax office will contact their counterparts to verify that the information provided is consistent on both sides. For example, if a business is being audited following its refund request, the tax office will likely contact the suppliers to verify the audited company didn’t cancel the purchase invoices and that they have been paid.

This category also includes cross checking activities on Intra-Community transactions reported by a business. In this scenario, the cross check would be based on information exchanges between local tax authorities through the VAT information exchange system (VIES). The tax authorities can check Intra-Community transactions reported to and from specific VAT numbers in each EU Member State and then cross check this information with what has been reported by a business on their respective VAT return. If any discrepancy arises, the tax office will likely contact the business to ask why they have (or haven’t) reported the transactions declared by their counterparts.

As we’ve already seen in an earlier article, audit triggers are also influenced by changes in legislation or shifts in the tax authorities’ attention to specific business sectors.

Regardless of whether it’s possible to identify the actual reason the tax authority initiated an audit, a business can undertake several actions in preparation for a check of activities, which will be covered in the next article of this series.

Take Action

Get in touch about the benefits a managed service provider can offer to ease your VAT compliance burden.

Romania is introducing a mandatory e-transport system from 1 July 2022 to monitor the transport of certain goods in the national territory, an initiative that will operate in parallel with the newly launched continuous transaction controls (CTCs) system for e-invoicing. This means that in a little over a month’s time, the issuance of an e-transport document will be mandatory for transportation of certain goods within Romania. In this blog, you will find answers to frequently asked questions related to this new system.

What transport is included in the scope?

The Romanian e-transport system monitors the transport of goods on the national territory categorised as high risk from a fiscal perspective.

This includes the following:

In addition to the transportation type, the categories of road vehicles in scope were recently published in a draft order by the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) as follows:

The transportation of high fiscal risk goods will not be declared in Romania’s e-transport system if the transportation doesn’t fall within the scope described above.

What are the high fiscal risk products that must be declared in Romania’s e-transport system?

ANAF had already established a list of high fiscal risk products and used the same criteria to determine the scope of the e-invoicing system (E-Factura). Although that list partially overlaps with the list for the e-transport system, there are differences.

The product categories of high fiscal risk products for the e-transport system are as follows:

  1. Vegetables, plants, roots and tubers, foodstuffs
  2. Edible fruits; peel of citrus fruits or melons
  3. Beverages, spirits, and vinegar
  4. Salt; sulfur; earths and stones; plaster, lime, and cement
  5. Knitted or crocheted garments and clothing accessories
  6. Clothing and clothing accessories, other than knitted or crocheted
  7. Footwear, gaiters
  8. Cast iron, iron, and steel

If the transportation includes both goods with high fiscal risk and other goods that aren’t in the category of high fiscal risk, the whole transportation must be declared in the Romanian e-transport system.

How does the e-transport system work?

It will be operational through the Virtual Private Space (SPV), which is the tax authority portal used for tax purposes, including the Romanian e-invoicing system. The system can either be used through API or through a free application provided by the Ministry of Finance.

According to the regulation, taxpayers will declare the transportation by transmitting an XML file in the e-transport system a maximum of three calendar days before the start of the transport, in advance of the movement of goods from one location to another. Following the transmission, the system will perform some checks (structure, syntax, and semantics), and the Ministry of Finance will apply its signature confirming receipt of the declaration.

The system will generate a unique code (ITU code) if the XML file complies with the requirements and make it available to the taxpayer in a zip archive file with the signature of the Ministry of Finance. This code must accompany the goods in physical or electronic format with the transport document to enable the competent authorities to verify the declaration and the goods while enroute.

The ITU code is valid for five calendar days, starting with the date declared when the transport begins. It’s prohibited to use the ITU code once it has expired.

What information needs to be sent to the e-transport system?

The declaration will include the following:

What are the fines?

Noncompliance with the rules relating to the e-transport system will result in a fine reaching Leu 50,000 (approx. €10,000) for individuals and Leu 100,000 (approx. €20,000) for legal persons. In addition, the value of undeclared goods will be confiscated.

What happens next?

Most of the regulations have been finalised although the approval process of the recently published draft order, technical documentation, APIs, and the e-transport system website are not yet available to taxpayers. As the system is currently due to become mandatory on 1 July 2022, businesses in Romania need to either prepare for last-minute implementation once the outstanding documentation is published or expect a postponement.

Take Action

Need help with evolving VAT compliance requirements in Romania? Get in touch with our tax experts.

Continuing our series on VAT audits, we take a closer look at the trends we’ve seen emerging in the activities of the EU Member States’ independent tax administrations throughout the European Union.

In a recent report from the European Commission (EC) specific guidelines were published not only on best practices but also on how EU Member States can harmonise the focus of their VAT audit projects. We’ve seen a significant shift away from scrutiny of historically complex businesses in sectors such as automotive and chemicals to the other sectors such as online retailers and distance selling.

The report released by the EC in April noted that there should be a conscious effort from the local tax authorities to increase the efficiency of audit practices and outcomes, by indicating how complex projects can be directed to solve industry specific issues.

Speaking about EU Member States they noted:

“They should also put in place more complex audit projects (for specific groups of taxpayers, an industry or a line of business such as retail, to address a particular risk or to establish the degree of non-compliance in a particular sector) and perform comprehensive audits and fraud investigations.”

VAT audits across Europe

We’ve seen this already happening in some countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany, with a greater shift towards auditing of previously neglected companies in the e-commerce industry as a result of Brexit and the E-commerce VAT Package implemented in July 2021. Our own audit team here at Sovos has seen a 45% increase in audits opened on our e-commerce clients in the second half of the year – driven both by changing activity post-Brexit and the One-Stop-Shop (OSS) regime commencing.

Looking in more detail at different tax administrations’ approach to auditing, we’ve observed a greater focus in VAT refund audits in the Netherlands, whilst Germany has scrutinised e-commerce retailers on more specific matters. These polarisations both reflect the individual interests of EU Member States and also the activities of the businesses operating across the EU, but it’s clear that the tax administrations in all countries are taking note of the importance of conducting audits to close the VAT gap.

It’s recommended to involve administrative agencies and governmental bodies to assist with the more complex audit projects embarked upon by EU Member States. With changes to how goods move cross-border between the United Kingdom and the EU taking centre stage in 2021 there has been an increased importance placed on the information transfer between customs offices and their tax administration counterparts. As mentioned earlier, the implementation of the OSS regime has led to a greater shift in the reporting of e-commerce businesses operating in the EU and the impact on the audit process is yet to be revealed.

It’s clear that the major shifts in the VAT landscape in 2021 created a different set of challenges for businesses and tax administrations but encouraging accurate record keeping is still a central goal of most EU Member States. In our next article in this VAT audit series we’ll explore the common triggers of a VAT audit.

Take Action

Need help ensuring compliance ahead of a VAT audit? Get in touch to discuss your VAT compliance needs.

France is known for its challenging Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) filing system. Understanding which tax authorities you need to register with, file with and talk to when you have questions is essential to meeting your business’s IPT compliance obligations. In this blog, we identify France’s IPT tax authorities and explain what makes IPT so different in this European country.

IPT tax authorities in France

There are three different tax bodies in France in charge of collecting IPT. They are the Business Tax Department (Service des Impôts des Entreprises) (SIE), the Compulsory Damage Insurance Guarantee Fund (Fonds de Garantie des Assurances Obligatoires de Dommages) (FGaO), and the Union for the Collection of Social Security Contributions and Family Allowances (Union de Recouvrement des Cotisations de Sécurité sociale et D’allocations Familiales) (URSSAF).

Dealing with France’s tax authorities can be challenging, especially once an insurance company obtains authorisation from the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (Autorite de Controle Prudentiel et de Resolution) (ACPR).

Why is France a challenging territory for insurance companies?

  1. Registration: Each insurance company needs to be registered with all three tax authorities, starting with the SIE, who releases a Tax ID number (Numero SIRET). Once the Tax ID is obtained, the insurer can ask to be registered with the FGaO if its policies cover risks from insurance classes 3 to 10. In cases where the client sells insurance class 2 sickness products, then registration with the URSSAF is required, and a second Tax ID is issued.
  2. Location of Risk: When it comes to the location of risk, the mainland office is also in charge of IPT collection for some of the overseas territories while others have their own tax offices.
  3. Tax Settlement and reporting process:
  1. A different tax rate is used ranging from 6.27% to 35% and a different fixed charge from €5.90 to €25.00 depending on the type of insurance policy.
  2. Cancellation and mid-term adjustments are allowed. The treatment differs from one office to another.

Take Action

Have questions about IPT compliance? Speak to our experts or download our e-book, Indirect Tax Rules for Insurance Across the World.

In a recent blog, we considered the upcoming changes to the VAT treatment of virtual events. Today, we will consider some of the issues that may arise.

Exemption from VAT

Many hosts currently use the available educational or fundraising exemptions, especially where the delegates are private individuals without the right of deduction, e.g., doctors. For events with physical attendance the host must consider the rules of the Member State where the event is held since that is where the VAT is due.

Under the new rules, a VAT exemption will be less relevant for B2B virtual events where the reverse charge applies as the attendee assesses the charge to tax themselves. However, it will remain relevant where delegates are unable to apply the reverse charge and unable to deduct the VAT charged – e.g. doctors. In such circumstances VAT is due where the doctor normally resides and that is where the exemption must be considered.

These new rules may require the host to assess the availability of the exemption in several Member States and may also require multiple ruling requests to be submitted. This is likely to increase operating costs substantially, and the (unintended) consequence could be that exemptions are not considered to the detriment of delegates.

Hybrid events

Many future events are likely to include virtual attendees since it increases overall attendance at an event, requiring the host to manage two invoicing regimes. There could be issues where one taxpayer has both physical and virtual attendees. In this case, the host will need to issue two invoices – one with local VAT for the physical attendance (and where the exemption may apply) and one where VAT is due in the customer’s Member State and the general reverse charge may apply. The attendance of B2C delegates will further increase this complexity for the host.

What happens if a delegate is invoiced for physical attendance, but changes to virtual attendance at the last minute?

When the host provides the login details for virtual attendance, this may change the place of supply. If the place of supply changes, the host must cancel the original invoice and issue a new invoice with the amended VAT treatment.

Non-EU hosts with B2C events

Where a host currently holds an event with virtual admission for non-taxable EU delegates (e.g. doctors) then the place of supply is where the supplier is established. For a host established outside the EU, no EU VAT is due (ignoring the possibility of use and enjoyment), and it is also likely that no local VAT is due in the host’s own country.

Implementation of the new rules will mean that the host must charge VAT in the Member State where the doctor normally resides. This will not only result in unrecoverable VAT for the doctor but will also increase the compliance costs of the host. Virtually attending such an event in 2025 may become significantly more expensive than in previous years.

Transposition

The article governing the transposition of these changes requires Member States to “adopt and publish” the necessary laws, regulations etc., by 31 December 2024. The changes will then apply from 1 January 2025.

Member States must not break rank and apply these rules before this date. A situation where some Member States adopt and apply the rules early could lead to double taxation, particularly in B2C transactions.

Once the rules are in force on 1 January 2025, several issues could arise. What happens for an event in January 2025 where delegates must pay for admission ahead of time in 2024? Where is VAT accounted for, and under which rules?

For B2B, there should be no issue since the service remains a general rule, but there is a real issue for non-taxable delegates, e.g. doctors.

For example, a US host holds an event where a German doctor will attend virtually. The event is in January 2025, but the delegate must pay the admission fee by 30 November 2024 to secure a place. Under current rules, applicable in 2024, the place of supply is where the supplier is established, so no VAT is due on the invoice. But when the event happens in January 2025, the new rules say that German VAT is due.

The time of supply rules are not affected by these changes but could a tax authority seek to change these to increase its tax revenue? For example, Greek VAT law says that the tax point is when the event takes place – not when the invoice is issued/payment received. So, in the above example, Greek VAT would be due for a Greek B2C delegate.

Reduced VAT rates

When considering the taxation of virtual events, the new rules state that in view of the digital transformation of the economy, it should be possible for Member States to provide the same treatment of live-streamed activities, including events, as those which are eligible for reduced rates when attended in person. To enable this, the annex detailing which services can benefit from a reduced rate will be amended to include admission to:

This change means that events that are live streamed can benefit from a reduced VAT rate. Though the changes to the place of supply rules refer to “virtual attendance” for B2B and “streamed or made virtually available” for B2C.

Are we to assume that “virtual attendance” = “live streamed”? But “streaming” can be live or recorded. Do these changes also cause an issue for VAT rate determination?

If a delegate watches an event live, then a reduced rate is possible. If the same event is watched via downloading a recording later, then the reduced rate is not possible. If one fee gives a delegate the right to attend the event virtually and download the event for future reference, then the concept of a mixed supply may be relevant.

Take Action

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

A recent report released by the European Commission has stressed the need for Member States to increase the number of audits they undertake, particularly in e-commerce businesses. The European Commission specifically highlighted the need for Malta, Austria and France to make additional efforts to improve their value-added tax audit practices. They highlighted the seriousness of the issue and that the consequences of inaccurate VAT reporting can be severe. VAT audits, therefore, promote accurate reporting and mitigate fraud, and as such, they are being encouraged by the Commission.

A strategic approach to VAT Audits

The European Commission specifically stated that tax authorities should have a strategic approach which must observe multiple elements, including:

The report notes some of the positive actions taken by Member States. Generally, they pay close attention to the audit process, with Finland and Sweden highlighted as particularly good. Furthermore, the report notes that some Member States have established special “VAT task forces” to deal with audits.

Following this report, the European Commission also announced that Norway should be authorised to participate in joint audits with their counterparts in the EU as a further measure to crack down on fraud.

Approach and scope of audits to be extended

E-commerce is a good example of an area that continues to grow, with the VAT stake ever increasing. With tax authorities globally struggling to keep pace with new technology and consumer offerings, local tax authorities are implementing further measures to ensure that fraud is combatted at an EU-wide level. Whether further changes occur through a difference in how VAT is reported or new forms of reporting such as continuous transaction controls (CTCs) that are in place in some Member States already, VAT audits are at the heart of this strategic plan. In this report, the European Commission has clarified that the approach and scope of audits should be extended.

With increased Member States co-operation and new measures adopted by the European Commission, such as the implementing regulation that provides details on how payment providers should start providing harmonised data to tax authorities from 2024, businesses should ensure that they have adequate controls in place to be able to handle any audit request. Future blogs in this series will focus on the audit trends we’ve noticed at Sovos and how businesses should prepare for an audit.

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For more information about how Sovos’ VAT Managed Services can help ease your business’s VAT compliance burden, contact our team today.

The Belgian taxation landscape can be challenging for insurers if they are not well versed in the rules and requirements for ongoing compliance. Belgium ranks as one of the somewhat trickier countries to deal with in the Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) sphere with a plethora of different taxes due dependant on the class of business as well as IPT prepayment requirements.

There are two different tax bodies Belgium insurers should be aware of: the Service Public Fédéral Finances which covers IPT and the National Institute for Health & Disability (INAMI) which covers a vast range of parafiscal charges.

IPT in Belgium

The standard rate of IPT in Belgium is 9.25% which is due on the total amount paid by the policyholder to obtain cover, inclusive of any third-party fees. Goods in Transit risks as well as specific motor risks are subject to a different rate, whilst certain life cover can also have varying rates.

The tax point is the date which triggers the tax, and in Belgium for all taxes it is triggered on the maturity date. This is formally defined as the contractual date when the policyholder pays the premium to the insurer.

Something which sometimes causes issues for insurers is the existence and application of the Belgian prepayment. The prepayment is based on the IPT figures for the October declaration and is due by 15 December.

Similarly to the Italian prepayment the rate stands at 100% but that is where the similarities end. Initially prepayment was only allowed to be offset against the IPT liabilities in the December declaration. However, we did experience some issues in receiving monies from the tax authority where the December liability exceeded the prepayment, thus resulting in a reclaim due.

In 2021 an exercise was undertaken whereby insurers were able to offset any excess prepayment not received in the previous four years against current IPT liabilities. In 2022 insurers have been able to utilise the prepayment up until the March declaration i.e four periods in total (December-March), thereafter if there is any prepayment remaining, in theory a reclaim should be received.

In certain circumstances an exemption was granted to not pay the prepayment. This was often with Captive insurers where they were paying liabilities solely in October on a yearly basis and didn’t expect any further liabilities until the following October. Such exemptions were negotiated directly with the tax office.

To ease the burden for insurers covering solely life insurance, such coverage is exempt from IPT prepayment.

INAMI in Belgium

There are seven different taxes covered by INAMI, five of which are due monthly, these are:

Taxes are due on certain motor and motor liability risks dependant on what the contract is covering, with the exception of fire. Some insurance policies are taxed with an element charged to the insured and an element charged to the insurer.

Fire risk is the most common parafiscal we see from the above and care should be taken in its application. Unlike other countries where the fire element percentage is largely determined by the insurer and the scope of the contract, fire risks in Belgium must be apportioned according to a predetermined set rate.

The hospitalisation INAMI charge is due on a biannual basis for ‘Sickness – Pre & Post Hospitalisation Costs’ on an individual and group level. For the charge to apply the insured must receive the benefits of Belgian healthcare insurance (not applicable to doctors, dentists, optician’s fees etc). The applicable rate is 10% on the taxable premium unless the insured’s benefit is less than EUR 12.39 per day, in which case a de minimis limit exemption applies.

Finally, we have the Security Fund for Fire & Explosion due annually, which is currently 3% on the taxable premium. This applies on compulsory liability insurance for fire and explosion in premises open to the public.

Navigating the rules and requirements in Belgium can be demanding for even the most experienced insurer. Sovos has a dedicated team of compliance experts to walk you through even the most challenging problems and ensure you are on the right compliance path.

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Get in touch about the benefits a managed service provider can offer to ease your IPT compliance burden.

Eastern European countries are taking new steps concerning the implementation of continuous transaction controls (CTC) systems to reduce the VAT gap and combat tax fraud. This blog provides you with information on the latest developments in several Eastern European countries that may further shape the establishment of CTC systems in other European countries and beyond.

Poland

Previously announced on 1 January 2022, taxpayers have been able to issue structured invoices (e-invoices) using Poland’s National e-Invoicing System (KSeF) voluntarily, meaning electronic and paper forms are still acceptable in parallel. On 30 March 2022, the European Commission announced the derogatory decision from Article 218 and Article 232 of Directive 2006/112/EC. The decision will apply from 1 April 2023 until 31 March 2026, after receiving the last approval from the EU Council. Moreover, on 7 April 2022, the Ministry of Finance published the test version of the KSeF taxpayer application that enabled the management of authorisations issuing and receiving invoices from KSeF. The mandatory phase of the mandate is expected to begin the second quarter of 2023, 1 April 2023.

Romania

The Romanian CTC system is one of the fastest developing in Eastern Europe, with the E-Factura system being available for B2G transactions since November 2021. Based on the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 41, published in the official gazette on 11 April 2022, the use of the system will become mandatory for transporting high fiscal risk goods domestically as of July 2022.

Moreover, Draft Law on the approval of the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 120/2021 on the administration, operation, and implementation of the national e-invoicing system (Draft Law) on 20 April 2022 was published by The Romanian Chamber of Deputies. According to the Draft Law, the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) will issue an order in 30 days following the derogation decision from EU VAT Directive and establish the scope and the timeline of the B2B e-invoicing mandate. As derived from the proposed amendments, B2G e-invoicing will become mandatory as of 1 July 2022, and mandatory e-invoicing for all B2B transactions is in the pipeline.

Serbia

Serbia has introduced a CTC platform called Sistem E-Faktura (SEF) and an additional system to help taxpayers with the processing and storage of invoices called the Sistem za Upravljanje Fakturama (SUF).

To start using the CTC system Sistem E-Faktura (SEF) provided by the Serbian Ministry of Finance, a taxpayer must register through the dedicated portal: eID.gov.rs. SEF is a clearance portal for sending, receiving, capturing, processing and storing structured electronic invoices. The recipient must accept or reject an invoice within fifteen days from the day of receipt of the electronic invoice.

The CTC system became mandatory on 1 May 2022 for the B2G sector, where all suppliers in the public sector must send invoices electronically. The Serbian government must be able to receive and store them from 1 July 2022. Additionally, all taxpayers will be obliged to receive and store e-invoices, and from ​1 January 2023, all taxpayers must issue B2B e-invoices​.

Slovakia

The Slovakian government announced its CTC system called Electronic Invoice Information System (IS EFA, Informačný systém elektronickej fakturácie) in 2021 through draft legislation.

The CTC e-invoicing covers B2G, B2B and B2C transactions and will be conducted via the electronic invoicing information system (IS EFA).

The official legislation regulating the e-invoicing system has not been published yet although it is expected to be published soon. However, the Ministry of Finance has recently posted new dates concerning the implementation of the electronic solution:

The second phase will follow for B2B and B2C transactions.

Slovenia

Slovenia has not progressed in introducing its CTC system. Due to the national elections in April 2022, the CTC reform was not expected to gain much traction until at least the summer of 2022. Nevertheless, there are still ongoing discussions around the CTC reform, which intensified soon after the Slovenian parliamentary elections.

The fast pace of the developments happening within Eastern European countries brings challenges. The lack of clarity and last-minute changes makes it even harder for taxpayers to stay compliant in these jurisdictions.

Take Action

Staying compliant with CTC changes throughout Eastern Europe is easier with help from Sovos’ team of VAT experts. Get in touch or download the 13th Annual Trends report to keep up with the changing regulatory landscape.

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.

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

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.

Take Action

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