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New circular letter about intra-EU trade

The Belgian VAT Authorities have published a new updated circular letter (2020/C/50 dated 02/04/2020), which details the administrative approach to intra-EU operations.

Besides the EU rules harmonizing the proof of shipment, a special national rule easing the proof of shipment has been adopted. The guidelines are actually an update of previously published circular letters about the same topic but it now includes comprehensive summary of the Quick Fixes.

Quick fixes implemented in Belgium

The Belgian VAT Authorities notably underline that the supplier must be in possession of the valid VAT identification number of the customer, which has been allocated to him by a Member State other than the Member State of departure of the goods. As regards intra-EU supplies carried out as from 01/01/2020, the supplier can no longer rely on the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (VSTR, Case C-587/10 of 27/09/2012; Plöckl, Case C-24/15 of 20/10/2016; Euro Tyre, Case C-21/16 of 09/02/2017), according to which receiving a valid VAT number from the customer was a formal requirement only.

The circular letter integrates explanations about the two new legal presumptions in the Implementing Regulation EU/282/2011, on the basis of which the goods are to be considered as having been dispatched or transported to another Member State of the EU. The presumptions lead to a reversal of the burden of proof with regard to the dispatch or transport of the goods from Belgium to another Member State. For further details, see: https://vatdesk.eu/en/eu-vat-news/quick-fixes-new-evidence-of-intracommunity-supply/.

Where the supplier makes use of one of the abovementioned presumptions, such dispatch or transport shall be deemed to be proven, unless the authorities are able to rebut this presumption. It is also confirmed that proving the transport with other appropriate documentation remains possible.

A third national presumption: destination document

The Belgian VAT legislation by the way includes a third national presumption under which the proof of transport may be provided by the supplier through a so-called "destination document" (in combination with the invoice relating to the transport of goods where that transport is carried out on behalf of the supplier). Possession of that/these document(s) also allows the burden of proof to be reversed.

Regarding the allocation of the transport in supply chains and the call-off stock regime, the comments in the Belgian circular letter are very similar to the Quick Fixes explanatory notes of the EU Commission.