The introduction of the platform fiction: a solution?
By Ineke C. J. M. Schellen, Baat accountants & adviseurs
The platform fiction was introduced effective 01 July 2021 and can be applicable for sales to end consumers in the EU through a platform like Amazon or Alibaba. When applicable, the platform – not the seller – must declare VAT on sales to end consumers in EU countries. Sellers using the platform only have to declare deemed sales to the platform on which no VAT is due (0%).
VAT regulations have become so difficult with the changes that came into effect as of 01 July 2021, that it is almost impossible to prepare and file VAT returns correctly if you are not a VAT specialist. Therefore, it is foreseeable that sellers who use platforms may be unable to oversee the VAT implications of their sales in the European Union and there is a risk they will not declare or pay VAT in the right countries.
Why the platform fiction
The platform fiction has been presented as a solution to all these VAT issues and is expected to achieve the goal of VAT being declared and paid correctly. The responsibility for correct VAT declarations is shifted from the sellers on platforms to the platforms facilitating the sales. If the platform fiction is applicable, sellers have supplies on which 0% VAT is due to the platforms, and the platforms must declare the VAT on sales to end consumers. This does not affect sellers’ rights to deduct input VAT.
It is very important to be aware that the platform fiction is not always applicable when platforms are used. In order to fall under platform fiction regulations, the platform has to facilitate the sale for the seller. This is the case when it brings the seller and buyer together and the sale takes place through the platform. The platform fiction is never available if the platform does not determine the terms and conditions of the supply, does not have to give permission to invoice the end consumer, and is not involved in a sale or ordering of the goods.
Non-EU goods or seller and the EUR 150 threshold
Another limitation is that the platform fiction can only be applicable when either the seller is established in a non-EU country, or the goods are directly transported from a non-EU country to the end consumer in the EU, and the goods have a total value that does not exceed EUR 150. Please note that combined supplies can be seen as a consignment and in this case the total value of the combined supplies must be taken into account for the EUR 150 threshold.
In practice the following situations occur regularly when a facilitating platform is used.
- A seller is established in the EU, but has his goods (or consignments) with values not exceeding EUR 150, directly transported from a non-EU country to end consumers in the EU through a platform. In this case the platform fiction is applicable. This is actually the same in a situation where the seller is established in a non-EU country. In this situation the EUR 150 threshold is also in place.
- When the seller is not established in an EU country, but his goods are located in a warehouse in an EU country and then sold to end consumers in the EU, the platform fiction is applicable. The EUR 150 threshold is not relevant in this situation. As a result, all sales of goods in the EU to end consumers in the EU, by non-EU sellers fall under the platform fiction.
For sellers established in the EU who first import goods and place them in a warehouse in the EU from where they are sold and transported to EU end consumers, the platform fiction is never applicable. These sellers must continue to declare their sales themselves.
For situations in which the platform fiction is not applicable, sellers may be able to use the Non-Union regulation, and the Union regulation to declare VAT on their sales and imports. Please note a fiscal representative may be necessary whenever the seller is not established in an EU country.
Ineke C. J. M. SchellenGGI member firm
Baat accountants & adviseurs
Advisory, Auditing & Accounting
Maastricht, Roermond, Sittard, The Netherlands
T: +31 475 729 238
As borders are always close by in the south of the Netherlands, over the years Baat accountants & adviseurs has built an extended accountancy, legal and tax consulting practice with a strong internationally orientated profile. One hundred professionals provide services to clients from all over the world, and communicate in Dutch, German, English, French and Chinese.
Ineke Schellen specialises in national and international VAT. She has a practical approach and advises businesses all over the world on VAT issues on any level and in every branch of work. Her goal is to make sure entrepreneurs can continue to do business without restrictions because of VAT rules.
Published: Indirect Taxes Newsletter, No. 12 Autumn 2021 l Photo: Halfpoint - stock.adobe.com