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Bolkestein lanceert openbare raadpleging voor nieuw "One-stop-shop" BTW-richtlijn (en)

dinsdag 18 mei 2004, 1:55

The European Commission has launched an open consultation for views on a one-stop shop system, whereby a trader could fulfil his Value Added Tax (VAT) obligations for his EU-wide activities solely in the Member State in which he is established. The consultation, which runs until 31st July, is based on a paper that considers the idea of allowing a trader to use a single VAT number for all supplies made throughout the EU and to make VAT declarations to one single electronic portal that would then be submitted automatically to the different Member States into which the trader supplies goods or services. Studies have concluded that VAT obligations are at present extremely burdensome for cross-border traders who are often unfamiliar with the tax procedures and arrangements in countries other than their country of establishment and often also encounter language difficulties. The opinions expressed during the present public consultation would be taken into account in a proposal on this subject, due to be presented by the Commission at the end of this year, according to the new VAT strategy as updated in October 2003 (see IP/03/1447). More information, including the consultation document, is available on the Europa website at:


"The present onerous VAT compliance obligations deter small companies and individual traders in particular from engaging in cross-border business" said Frits Bolkestein, Commissioner for the Internal Market and Taxation. "We would like to obtain the views of stakeholders before making a proposal for a simplified electronic one-stop-shop system that would be designed to enable all traders to benefit fully from the Internal Market."

Consultation Paper

The paper considers the idea of an optional and fully electronic compliance scheme that would be open to every trader supplying goods or services that are subject to VAT to customers in Member States other than that in which he is established.

The scope of the scheme would be limited to supplies made by business to consumers (B2C). The simplest way of reducing onerous compliance obligations for business-to-business (B2B) supplies would, in the Commission's view, be to change the VAT rules so that the customer (if he is a trader) rather than the supplier would be responsible for paying the VAT on services supplied to him.

The B2C scheme would allow a trader to register only once, in the Member State where he is established, and to use a single VAT number for all B2C supplies made within the scope of the scheme. VAT declarations would be made to one single electronic portal and would then be submitted automatically to the different Member States to which the trader supplies goods or services.

Payments would be made directly to the Member State of consumption, possibly with the help of financial intermediaries.

The consultation documents explain in detail all the aspects of this project, which is still in its conception phase.


The present VAT system requires businesses to pay VAT in the Member State where consumption of the goods they supply takes place. Complex rules have been created in order to determine where such a place is. The result is that many businesses have to pay VAT in a Member State where they have no permanent establishment. For intra-EU supplies of goods between traders, this problem has been solved by moving to the customer the responsibility for paying the tax. But in other cases (distance sales to individuals for example), the supplier has to register and pay VAT in the other country, which is very difficult when the trader is not fully acquainted with the language and legislation of that other country. This is a major obstacle to the smooth functioning of the Internal Market.

The optimum solution in the Commission's view would be for all companies to levy VAT at their place of origin (or establishment), with an appropriate mechanism for reallocation of revenues in the case of goods traded between Member States. However, Member States are not at present willing to take any of the necessary steps that would be needed for such an origin-based VAT system. The Commission therefore decided, in its 2000 Communication on a new VAT Strategy (see IP/00/615) and review and update of October 2003 (see IP/03/1447), to focus on simplifying and modernising the present VAT regime. Several measures have already been taken in this respect and more are planned. The planned proposal on a one stop shop fits into this Strategy.

The European Commission launched an open consultation in May 2003 concerning whether Member States' VAT compliance requirements should be harmonised and whether traders doing business across frontiers should be allowed a single place of compliance for VAT purposes (see IP/03/746). It emerged from this exercise that a single place of compliance is welcomed by business, as well as by most tax administrations, but that full harmonisation of all VAT obligations is not likely to be acceptable, at least in the short and medium term. The Commission has therefore worked, together with tax administrations, on the present One-Stop-Shop project which could function without a full harmonisation of national VAT obligations.

Other online European Commission consultations can be accessed via the "Your Voice in Europe" portal at



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