Brussels, 31 January 2008
VAT – Commission refers France to Court of Justice for its legislation on rates of VAT for undertakers’ services
The Commission has decided to refer France to the Court of Justice for applying different rates of VAT to operations performed by undertakers as part of the same service.
In France services provided by undertakers do not attract a single rate of VAT. The reduced rate applies to the transportation of a body by vehicle whereas the movement of a body by bearers and other operations generally provided by undertakers attract the normal rate.
The Commission considers that France is thereby applying an artificial distinction at variance with Community case law as regards the concept of a single composite service. The case law treats services provided by undertakers for a particular funeral and the goods delivered in connection with the latter as forming one and the same service.
The Commission therefore takes the view that a single rate of VAT must apply to such operations.
The Commission points out that France can choose to apply the reduced rate to the "supply of services by undertakers and cremation services, and the supply of goods related thereto" in accordance with point 16 of Annex III to the VAT Directive, but the same choice must apply to the whole service. If France opts not to make use of that possibility, it must by the same logic apply the normal rate of VAT to the service as a whole.
The Commission sent a reasoned opinion to France in July 2007 (see IP/07/1004). As France has not amended its legislation within the time limit laid down, the Commission has decided to refer the matter to the Court of Justice.
The case has been assigned No 2005/5051 by the Commission.
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