Germany amending rules on VAT refunds

The European Commission requests Germany amend its rules on VAT refunds for non-EU operators

3rd October 2012 – European Union

The European Commission has requested that Germany amend its legislation which requires that VAT refund applications submitted by non-EU operators be personally signed by the applicant. The Commission considers that such a measure goes against the basic EU law principles of effectiveness, proportionality and equivalence.

There is no provision under the relevant EU legislation which requires those VAT refund applications to be personally signed. Moreover, requiring a personal signature from non-EU operators can make it excessively difficult for those not established in the EU to obtain a VAT refund. The Commission considers that Germany’s objective with this requirement, namely combatting tax evasion and ensuring a proper refund procedure, could be achieved through other means, such as the appointment of a tax representative.

The request takes the form of a Reasoned Opinion (the second stage of an infringement procedure). If the legislation is not brought into compliance with EU Law within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the EU’s Court of Justice.

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