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On 17 September 2013, the German Federal Ministry of Finance (FMoF) published the administrative guidelines concerning the documentary evidence of intra-community supplies. These new guidelines confirm and officially determine the interpretation of the VAT law that will become applicable as from October 1, 2013.
Based on the published guidelines is he so called ‘Gelangensbestätigung’ the only accepted documentary evidence for all cases where the supplier or the recipient transports the goods with their own means of transport. However, if a carrier is transporting the goods on behalf of the supplier or his customers, even though the ‘Gelangensbestätigung’ will be the regular evidence, the taxpayer is allowed to prove that the goods have left the country by several other options, e.g. a fully completed freight document such as CMR (with signature of the supplier, the carrier and the recipient) or by a certificate issued by the transport agent.
In addition, the FMoF provides the taxpayers – together with the published document – with example forms of the ‘Gelangensbestätigung’ in German, English and French which can but do not have to be used. The guidelines also specify that under certain conditions ‘Gelangensbestätigungen’ can be obtained electronically but must not cover a period of more than 3 months.
For more details see
Based on the opinion of the German Federal Ministry of Finance (Bundesfinanzministerium – BMF) the simplification rule is only applicable if the supplier transports the goods himself. In case the recipient organises the transport or the goods are transported by a third party freight forwarder, the simplification cannot be used. Germany has a simplification scheme in place which allows suppliers to treat the cross-border transaction as an intra-community transfer of own goods. In such a case, the supplier reports an intra-community supply in the EU member state of dispatch and an intra-community acquisition in Germany. The delivery to the recipient of the goods in Germany is treated as a domestic supply of goods and charged with local German VAT.
This simplification rule is very useful as the supplier has only a limited administrative effort. Furthermore, the VAT numbers of the recipients neither need to be requested nor verified on regular basis (which might be a huge administrative burden).
The new limitation of the use of the simplification will not generate more revenue for the tax authority but it will create lots of administrative work which could be easily avoided.
As of January 1, 2012 the German provision concerning the documentary evidence for zero-rated intra-Community supplies of goods was amended. In the meantime however, the German Federal Ministry of Finance has already twice postponed the compulsory application of the new provisions. Therefore it is still acceptable if the documentary evidence is made in accordance with the provisions in place prior to 31 December 2011.