This contribution deals with the latest proposals regarding levying VAT in the European Union (EU) Customs Union. The present system, which has been in place since 1993 and was supposed to be transitional, splits every cross-border transaction into an exempted cross-border supply and a taxable cross-border acquisition. It is like a customs system, but lacks equivalent controls and is therefore the root of cross-border fraud. After many years of unsuccessful attempts, the Commission abandoned the objective of implementing definitive VAT arrangements based on the principle of taxing all cross-border supplies of goods in the Member State of their origin, under the same conditions that apply to domestic trade including VAT rates. The European Parliament and the Council agreed that the definitive system should be based on the principle of taxation in the Member State of the destination of the goods. After a brief discussion of the VAT Action Plan of 2016 (Section 1), the e-commerce package in the form of Directive (EU) 2017/2455 is dealt with (Section 2), followed by the proposal to harmonise and simplify certain rules in the VAT system and introduce the definitive system, only partially adopted (Section 3). Section 4 deals with the proposal to introduce detailed measures of the definitive VAT system. The proposed harmonisation and simplification of certain rules were meant to become applicable on 1 January 2019, but will become only partially applicable on 2020. It is proposed to make the detailed measures of the definitive VAT system applicable in 2022. It remains to be seen whether the Member States are willing to accept the definitive VAT system at all; hence the subtitle ‘the ordeal of indirect tax harmonisation’.

Additional Metadata
Keywords single indirect tax area, VAT action plan, quick fixes, e-commerce package, definitive VAT system
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.5553/ELR.000124, hdl.handle.net/1765/126821
Series Erasmus Law Review
Journal Erasmus Law Review
Citation
Terra, B. (2020). Levying VAT in the EU Customs Union: Towards a Single Indirect Tax Area? The Ordeal of Indirect Tax Harmonisation. Erasmus Law Review, 12(3), 269–298. doi:10.5553/ELR.000124