Brussels, 29 October 2009
VAT: The European Commission asks France to bring its tax representative ( 'répondant fiscal' ) provision into line with the VAT Directive (Directive 2006/112/EC)
The European Commission has asked France to amend the optional derogation for declaring and paying VAT for non-established vendors and their clients in France. Considering this provision, which involves designating a tax representative, to be incompatible with the VAT Directive, the Commission has started the second stage of the infringement procedure in sending France a reasoned opinion.
In accordance with Community rules, France has provided for a reverse-charge system whereby the client is designated as liable to pay VAT if the supplier or vendor is not established in the country. However, by derogation from this system, an administrative concession allows the vendor's statement to declare the tax owed by his clients as reverse-charges and to offset this from the VAT owed by the vendor. Under this provision, the non-established vendor must register for VAT in France and designate a tax representative ( 'répondant fiscal' ) responsible for declaring and paying VAT on his behalf.
The Commission considers that several aspects of this provision are incompatible with the VAT Directive and Court of Justice case law. An amendment stemming from Directive 2000/65/EC, intended to reduce the burden for economic operators, means that taxable persons established in the European Union and in certain third countries may not be obliged to designate a tax representative ( 'répondant fiscal' ), even in an optional system (Case C-249/05 Commission v Finland , , ECR I-80). Furthermore, according to the VAT Directive, in a reverse-charge system, a vendor not established in the country is not obliged to register for VAT. Lastly, the Directive does not provide for the offsetting of sums of VAT due and payable by individual taxable persons, apart from in a few very specific cases.
Considering that the 'representative' provision does not respect these rules, the Commission has sent France a reasoned opinion asking it to bring its law into line within two months.
The Commission's reference number is 2007/2401.
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