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16/9/2019  
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POLICIES

Commission presents measures to modernise VAT in the EU


The European Commission has presented an Action Plan setting out ways to reboot the current EU VAT system to make it simpler, more fraud-proof and business-friendly. The current VAT rules urgently need to be updated so they can better support the Single Market, facilitate cross-border trade and keep pace with today´s digital and mobile economy.
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The common Value Added Tax (VAT) system plays an important role in Europe’s Single Market. It was originally put in place to do away with turnover taxes which distorted competition and hindered the free movement of goods and to remove fiscal checks and formalities at internal borders. It is a major and growing source of revenue in the EU, raising almost EUR 1 trillion in 2014, corresponding to 7% of EU GDP. One of the EU’s own resources is also based on VAT. As a consumption tax, it is one of the most growth-friendly forms of taxation.
But the VAT system has been unable to keep pace with the challenges of today´s global, digital and mobile economy. The current VAT system, which was intended to be a transitional system, is fragmented, complex for the growing number of businesses operating cross-border and leaves the door open to fraud: domestic and cross-border transactions are treated differently and goods or services can be bought free of VAT within the Single Market.

The Commission has consistently pressed for the reform of the VAT system. We have listened to the European Parliament and the Council, which both agreed that any future VAT system should be based on the principle of destination, i.e.: where the goods or services are consumed.

The ´VAT gap´, which is the difference between the expected VAT revenue and VAT actually collected in Member States, was almost €170 billion in 2013. Cross-border fraud itself is estimated to be responsible for a VAT revenue loss of around €50 billion a year in the European Union. At the same time, the current VAT system remains fragmented and creates significant administrative burdens, especially for SMEs and online companies.

The Action Plan sets out a pathway to modernise the current EU VAT rules, including:
  • key principles for a future single European VAT system;
  • short term measures to tackle VAT fraud;
  • update the framework for VAT rates and set out options to grant Member States greater flexibility in setting them;
  • plans to simplify VAT rules for e-commerce in the context of the Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy and for a comprehensive VAT package to make life easier for SMEs.

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