To keep in mind

The structure of VAT is harmonized within the EU. The basic legislation on the common system of VAT focuses on the homogenization of EU countries internal legislations and establishes a common VAT structure, a uniform basis of assessment and minimum rates to be established by EU countries.

You will find here the summary of VAT obligations valid in all countries within the European Union.

VAT Identification

Every taxable person must inform the tax administration when his activity commences, changes or ceases. Member States must take the measures necessary to ensure that foreign companies carrying out supplies of goods or services within their respective territory for which they are liable for the payment of the VAT, are identified by means of an individual number. Member States shall allow, and may require, the statement to be made by electronic means, in accordance with conditions which they lay down.

Each individual VAT identification number shall have a prefix in accordance with ISO code 3166 — alpha 2 — by which the Member State of issue may be identified.

VAT Returns

Periodical VAT return

Every taxable person must submit a VAT return setting out all the information needed to calculate the tax that has become chargeable and the deductions to be made. Member States shall allow, and may require, the VAT return to be submitted by electronic means, in accordance with conditions which they lay down.

The VAT return shall be submitted by a deadline to be determined by Member States. The tax period shall be set by each Member State at one month, two months or three months. Member States may, however, set different tax periods provided those periods do not exceed one year.

Member States are currently able to define the information which they consider necessary on a periodic VAT return. Across the EU, the periodic VAT return in different Member States varies between 6 (Ireland) and 99 boxes (Hungary).

Annual summarizing VAT return

In addition to periodic returns throughout the year, Member States may require taxable persons to submit an annual summarizing VAT return (art. 261 of the VAT Directive) concerning all transactions carried out in the preceding year. That return should provide all the information necessary for any adjustments. Annual summarizing return is required notably in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Malta, Latvia, Luxembourg, Spain & Portugal. It has been abolished in Greece since 01/01/2014.

The purpose of the annual VAT return is therefore to provide the periodic information already submitted in a summarized form to allow for any annual adjustments. According to the European Commission, the practice of Member States is typically to demand more information on the annual return and has therefore proposed that Member States will no longer be able to require annual VAT returns as part of its proposal for a standard VAT return.

Payment of VAT

Every taxable person must pay the amount of VAT due on each declaration.

The net amount of VAT due must, in principle, be paid when the return is filed. Member States may set a different date for the payment or require interim payments (e.g. Belgium).