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Germany: Retroactive correction of invoices allowed, VAT refund judicial proceedings

Germany: Retroactive correction of invoices allowed

The German federal tax court (BFH) concluded that a retroactive correction of invoices is possible with regard to the input value added tax (VAT) refund procedure.


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The case identifying information is: V R 19/18 (15 October 2019).

The BFH previously decided that an invoice is capable of being corrected if it contains details about the issuer of the invoice, the recipient of the invoice, the description of the supply, the fee, and separately listed VAT. The invoice can be retroactively corrected up to the conclusion of final oral hearings before the lower tax court. In the present case, the federal tax court (BFH) decided that the VAT refund procedure can similarly be corrected.

Under German VAT law, an EU-based company’s claim when filed electronically for a VAT refund must be accompanied by copies of invoices and import documents if the fee for the transaction or the import is at least €1,000 or if the invoices related to the purchase of fuel have a value of at least €250. In this case, a Dutch company submitted an electronic claim for the refund of input VAT in Germany for the year 2012. Two invoices were submitted, showing VAT in the amount of €10,600 and €13,000, respectively. While these invoices did not contain all of the necessary details, additional details were provided during the input VAT refund process. The court concluded that these corrections were allowable.

Read a February 2020 report [PDF 343 KB] prepared by the KPMG member firm in Germany

The KPMG report also includes brief discussions of the following VAT or indirect tax developments that may affect businesses in Germany:

  • Brexit—VAT consequences of withdrawal from the EU (German Ministry of Finance, guidance of 16 January 2020 ‒ III C 1 - S 7050/19/10001 :002)
  • Expansion of margin taxation of travel services on business-to-business transactions—relevance for all companies (Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.) I 2019, p. 2451)
  • More attractive cash accounting and tax reduction for all train journeys (BGBl. I 2019, p. 2875; BGBl. I 2019, p. 2886)
  • CJEU submission on partnerships as subordinate companies—VAT grouping (Lower Tax Court Berlin-Brandenburg, decision of 21 November 2019, 5 K 5044/19; CJEU ref. no.: C-868/19)
  • Invoice details for input VAT deduction and for documentary proof—standard terms (BFH, decision of 10 July 2019, XI R 2/18, 27/18 and 28/18)
  • Instructions for the notification of transports into a consignment stock (Federal Central Tax Office, instructions of 18 December 2019)
  • Zero-rated supplies of goods for export in non-commercial travel (BMF, guidance of 10 January 2020 ‒ III C 3 - S 7133/19/10002 :004)

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