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Administrative cooperation in the field of VAT (from 1.1.2012)

The regulation establishes common rules and procedures for administrative cooperation and information exchanges between national competent authorities to properly apply value added tax (VAT) and to combat fraud.

ACT

Council Regulation (EU) No 904/2010 of 7 October 2010 on administrative cooperation and combating fraud in the field of value added tax.

SUMMARY

This regulation sets out rules and procedures for cooperation and exchanges of information between European Union (EU) countries’ competent authorities responsible for applying value added tax (VAT), with a view to:

  • assessing VAT correctly;
  • monitoring the correct application of VAT;
  • combating VAT fraud;
  • protecting VAT revenue.

Each EU country must designate a single central liaison office as a contact point for cooperation with the other EU countries and the Commission. EU countries may also designate liaison departments and/or competent officials for direct exchanges of information. The liaison departments and competent officials must notify their central liaison office of any requests or replies to requests for assistance they send or receive. If a request received is outside of their territorial or operational area, it must be forwarded to the central liaison office.

Exchanging information

The requesting authority sends requests for information and for administrative enquiries to the requested authority using a standard form. The latter must provide the information without delay and at the latest within three months from the date of receipt of the request. If the requested authority already possesses the information requested, it must send it within one month from the date of receipt of the request.

Without any prior requests, the competent authorities must automatically provide each other with certain categories of information using a standard form when:

  • information from the EU country of origin is essential for the control system of the EU country of destination where taxation will take place;
  • there is reason to believe that a breach of VAT legislation has been or will be committed in the EU country of destination;
  • there is a risk of tax loss in the EU country of destination.

The competent authorities should spontaneously exchange any other necessary information not forwarded automatically. They may request feedback from the receiving authority on the information exchanged.

If the information received is likely to be useful to the competent authority of a third EU country, the requesting authority may transmit it, provided that it first informs the requested authority or, if required, obtains the permission of the requested authority.

As far as possible, information exchanges should be carried out by electronic means. The provision of information may be refused if:

  • the number and nature of requests for information within a specific period from the requesting authority impose a disproportionate administrative burden;
  • the usual sources of information have not been exhausted by the requesting authority;
  • the laws and procedures of the requested EU country do not permit the carrying out of the enquiry or the collection or use of the information;
  • for legal reasons, the requesting EU country cannot provide similar information;
  • it would lead to the disclosure of a commercial, industrial or professional secret or it is against public policy.

For the purpose of exchanging information, and by agreement between the requesting and requested authority, officials of the former may be present at the offices of the latter and have access to copies of documents containing the information requested. These officials may also participate in the administrative enquiries carried out in the requested EU country; however, they may not exercise the powers of inspection conferred on the hosting officials.

EU countries may also decide to carry out simultaneous controls, if this is more effective than controls carried out by only one EU country.

The regulation establishes specific provisions concerning the special scheme for non-established taxable persons supplying electronic services to non-taxable persons.

Storing information

Each EU country must store the following up-to-date information in an electronic system for at least five years starting from the end of the first calendar year in which access to it is granted, by automated means, to the other EU countries:

  • information provided in the recapitulative statements submitted by taxable persons identified for VAT purposes;
  • data on persons to whom the EU country has issued a VAT identification number;
  • data on VAT identification numbers that have become invalid;
  • information on non-established taxable persons.

Combating VAT fraud

This regulation establishes a network for the swift exchange of targeted information between EU countries (Eurofisc) to improve multilateral cooperation in combating VAT fraud. In this context, EU countries will set up a multilateral early warning mechanism, as well as coordinate the activities of national Eurofisc officials acting on any warnings received.

Cooperating on VAT refunds

Apart from certain exceptions, the competent authority of an EU country must forward applications for refunds of VAT it receives from taxable persons established in another EU country to the competent authorities of the EU countries of refund concerned. This must be done by electronic means within 15 days from the date of receipt of the application. The authorities of the EU countries of refund must notify by electronic means the authorities of the other EU countries if they require additional electronic coded information on the nature and services of the applicants or if they require the applicants to provide a description of their business activities by using harmonised codes.

Cooperating with non-EU countries

Provided that the assistance arrangements with the non-EU country in question allow it, the competent authority of an EU country may forward information it received from that country to the EU countries that request it and to any other EU country to which it may be of interest. The competent authorities of EU countries may forward information to non-EU countries if the:

  • EU country from where the information originates consents;
  • non-EU country in question has agreed to cooperate in gathering evidence of irregular transactions that seem to contravene VAT legislation.

Applying this regulation

This regulation repeals Regulation (EC) No 1798/2003 as of 1 January 2012, with the exception of Chapter V (excluding Article 27(4)) that will remain applicable until 31 December 2012.

Articles 33 to 37 of this regulation will apply from 1 November 2010. Articles 38 to 42 will apply from 1 January 2012. Chapter V, except for Articles 22 and 23, will apply from 1 January 2013. Articles 43 to 47 will apply from 1 January 2015.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EU) No 904/2010

1.11.2010

-

OJ L 268 of 12.10.2010

Last updated: 13.01.2011

See also

  • The European Commission Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union website on VAT
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