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Germany: Input VAT refund procedures, VAT on company cars

Germany: Input VAT refund procedures

The German Federal Tax Court (BFH) has been uncertain as to what details are required for an input value added tax (VAT) refund application and specifically what “number of the invoice” is to be designated.


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Seeking guidance to address this issue, the German court requested that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) clarify the matter. The CJEU submission concerns Art. 8 (2) (d) of the Directive 2008/9/EC—that provides that for every refund, the invoice must include the invoice number and it must be provided in a refund claim application. In particular, the German court asked if an indication of the reference number on the invoice, shown as an additional classification criterion besides the invoice number, suffices. According to the German court, the principle of neutrality and the principle of proportionality suggest this classification information would be sufficient.

In a separate matter, the Lower Tax Court of Saarland asked the CJEU for a preliminary ruling on the place of transfer of company cars transferred to employees. This question would affect commuters living in border areas and working in another country. The court asked the CJEU whether Article 56(2) or Article 45 sent. 1 of the VAT Directive is relevant for taxation. Under Article 56(2), the place of leasing of a means of transport to non-taxable persons, with the exception of short-term hires, would be the place where the customer is established, domiciled or habitually resident. Otherwise, under the first sentence of Article 45 of the VAT Directive, the place of supply of services to a non-taxable person is the place where the supplier has established its business. 

Other VAT developments

Other recent VAT developments that may affect businesses in Germany include the following items:

  • Requirement for additional information in the input VAT refund procedure (CJEU judgment of 2 May 2019 ‒ case C-133-18 ‒ Sea Chefs Cruise Services)
  • Description of goods in the low-cost segment (BFH decision of 14.3.2019, V B 3/19)
  • Acquisition of molds, models and tools abroad (German Ministry of Finance, letter of 16 April 2019 – III C 2 – S 7100/19/10003 :004)
  • Draft law on quick fixes (Draft bill, 8 May 2019)

Read a May 2019 report [PDF 288 KB] prepared by the KPMG member firm in Germany

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