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EU VAT 2021 Overhaul: What Businesses Must Know

On July 21st, 2021, the European Union implemented significant changes to its VAT (Value-Added Tax) rules, particularly impacting businesses selling goods and services into the EU from outside of the bloc. Understanding these changes is crucial to ensure compliance and maintain a smooth customer experience in the European market.




Key Changes Introduced:


  1. Abolition of the VAT Exemption: Previously, commercial goods valued under €22 imported into the EU were exempt from VAT.   This exemption has been removed.   Now, VAT is applicable to all goods entering the EU, regardless of value. 

  2. Introduction of the IOSS: The Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) offers a simplified way for non-EU businesses to collect and remit VAT on goods destined for EU customers.   When using the IOSS, VAT is charged at the point of sale, rather than at customs upon delivery.

  3. Online Marketplaces (OMPs) as VAT Collectors: Online marketplaces (e.g., Amazon, eBay) are now deemed as suppliers in many B2C transactions.   They bear the responsibility of collecting and remitting VAT for certain sales occurring through their platforms. 


Impacts on Businesses Selling into the EU


The new VAT rules have a wide-ranging impact on non-EU businesses:


  • Increased Compliance Requirements: Businesses must carefully determine their VAT registration obligations in various EU countries. The previous €22 exemption meant fewer companies needed to register. Now, with all imported goods subject to VAT, registration requirements are broader.

  • Pricing Considerations: Businesses need to factor VAT into their product or service pricing upfront to provide transparent pricing to EU customers.

  • Cash Flow and Administration: Companies may face increased VAT-related administrative tasks and must consider potential cash flow implications if they opt not to use the IOSS and customers pay VAT at delivery.

  • Customer Experience: The most significant impact revolves around the customer experience. Without using the IOSS scheme or having clear pricing strategies, customers may face surprise costs upon delivery, longer delivery times due to customs delays, and a generally less streamlined buying experience.


How to Adapt to the Changes


Assess Your VAT Registration Needs: Determine if your sales into particular EU countries now exceed local distance selling thresholds and if you need to register for VAT.


Consider the IOSS: Partnering with an IOSS agent can streamline your VAT process, reducing administrative burdens and improving customer satisfaction. 


Collaborate with Marketplaces: If you sell through online marketplaces, be sure to understand how the new rules impact your transactions and collaborate with the marketplace to ensure proper VAT handling.


Transparent Pricing for Customers: Clearly communicate any applicable VAT in your pricing to avoid unexpected charges for customers.


Seek Professional Advice: Engaging a tax advisor with expertise in EU VAT can bring significant benefits and ensure you remain on the right side of regulations.


Conclusion

The EU VAT landscape has changed for businesses worldwide.   While the new rules bring added complexity, they also aim to create a level playing field and improve the overall VAT system.   By understanding the changes, strategizing properly, and potentially utilizing tools like the IOSS, businesses can successfully navigate these regulations and continue growing in the lucrative EU market.

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