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VAT and e-commerce: New legal provisions adopted in Brussels

VAT and e-commerce: New legal provisions

The European Union (“EU”) adopted new legal provisions which principally affect both EU and non-EU businesses involved in the sale of goods cross-border to EU consumers (“distance sales”).

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The VAT treatment of supplies of goods and services in the digital economy continues to be an area of challenge and change, affecting business around the world. In keeping with this trend, on 5 December 2017 the European Union (“EU”) adopted new legal provisions which principally affect both EU and non-EU businesses involved in the sale of goods cross-border to EU consumers (“distance sales”). The provisions will in many cases change the VAT compliance obligations for such businesses. In addition, they will extend VAT compliance obligations to online platforms which facilitate distance sales of goods coming from outside the EU and distance sales within the EU by non-EU suppliers. The changes will also in many cases affect the VAT reporting obligations of postal operators and couriers in respect of distance sales of goods from non EU countries. These are significant changes but, for the most part, they will not enter into effect before 1 January 2021. Some changes, principally affecting small and medium sized enterprises involved in supplies of digital services will come into effect on 1 January 2019.

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