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The European Commission argues that this will create a level playing field, because it means that sellers can’t undercut their competitors unfairly by using a lower VAT rate.However, because there’s no threshold, it actually disadvantages the smallest companies and individual traders.The rules apply to all sellers providing digital services to customers within the EU, no matter where in the world the seller is located.Quite how this will be enforced is unclear, but we are hearing noise that other countries will follow suit if this is successful – so unless we stop this now, expect selling outside your own borders to get even more complicated in years to come!Defining “minimal human intervention” is the biggest problem: 28 countries are interpreting these EU guidelines, and some of the interpretations are contradictory – for example, whether or not manually emailing a file counts as “minimal intervention”.
You can refuse service for an “objective justification” (legal term), but it’s not clear whether the compliance burden of the new rules constitutes an objective justification (although HMRC clearly feel it can do).
At the moment, people selling goods across national boundaries have a distance-selling threshold of either €35,000 or €100,000 (depending on the country they sell into) before having to register for VAT in that country. If a third-party platform handles the payment and supply and also sets the standard Terms and Conditions, they are responsible for VAT.
Unfortunately, not all third party platforms are ready to comply with this legislation and many have only found out about this recently. Payment providers such as Pay Pal are not third-party platforms (they just provide a payment mechanism) so they are not responsible for accounting for VAT.
If your sales include live interaction, they may not count as “automated digital services”.
However, adding “live interaction” to prevent the new rules applying to your sales may bring you into the realm of tax avoidance.
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Continue down to read more about whether your products or services are affected and what to do if they are.