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March 2020

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As the governments’ announcements on VAT measures related to the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak continue to unfold at such great speed, here is our second summary of the recent developments. This is current as of the 30th of March.

For many countries there is uncertainty as to whether the below measures apply only to locally established businesses or have they been extended to non-resident companies. Essentia is investigating this on a country by country basis and we will publish the relevant updates shortly.

  • ITALY – Italy has not implemented any further VAT measures apart from those outlined in our previous newsletter of the 17th of March. Moreover, it is uncertain whether or not those measures that have already been announced can apply to non-resident companies.
  • SPAIN – no further announcements have been made by Spain since our previous newsletter of the 17th of March.
  • GERMANY – the German tax authorities have extended the VAT deferment period until the end of 2020.
  • AUSTRIA – in addition to a payment plan provisions outlined in our newsletter of the 17th of March, the deadline to submit the annual VAT return for 2019 period has been extended from the 30th of June 2020 to 31st of August 2020.
  • FRANCE – as it stands at the moment there are no specific VAT measures approved in France;
  • UK – according to the latest (of the 26th of March) HMRC’s guidance, both resident and non-resident businesses that are registered for UK VAT will have an option to defer their VAT payment due for the period 20 March – 30 June 2020 until the 31st of March 2021 (at the latest). Businesses paying by direct debit should cancel their direct debit orders with their banks. Note that these measures do not cover VAT MOSS payments. Please follow the link for full HMRC’s guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deferral-of-vat-payments-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19
  • IRELAND – in addition to the VAT measures outlined in our newsletter of the 17th of March, Ireland suspends all VAT debt enforcement activities until further notice.
  • POLAND – in addition to the VAT measures outlined in our newsletter of the 17th of March, Poland announced that the interest normally charged on the tax arrears will be temporarily abolished. Other VAT positions within the approved ‘anti-crisis shield’ include postponing the go-live date for the combined SAF-T file with the VAT returns for large companies from the planned 1st of April onto the 1st of July 2020 and the application of the new VAT rates matrix from the planned 1st of April onto the 1st of July 2020 as well as extension of the deadline for submitting a notification of payment to a bank account of the supplier not included in the Whitelist from 3 days to 14 days.
  • SWEDEN – the measures reported in our newsletter of the 17th of March can be backdated to January 2020 period.
  • DENMARK – as part of the Danish id package, businesses that settle VAT monthly received a 30-day extension of the deadline to pay the VAT whereas business settling VAT on a quarterly basis the payment for the first two quarters of 2020 can be combined and made by the 1st September 2020. Any businesses on a bi-annual frequency can pay the VAT for both half-yearly periods in a combined payment to be made only by the 1st of March 2021. For further details, please follow the link (in English): https://skat.dk/skat.aspx?oid=16900&lang=us
  • NETHERLANDS – the Dutch tax authorities may grant a 3-month VAT payment holiday upon receiving an application from a business struggling with its cashflow due to the COVID-19 crisis. Such applications can even be made by the companies over a telephone as far as the 3-month payment extension is concerned. If a business requires some a payment extension beyond 3 months, a written motivated application is required. In addition, the authorities are reducing the interest rate for such payments from 8% to 0,01%. Moreover, some extra VAT relief on customer bad debts related to the COVID-19 crisis are going to be granted and businesses in a regular VAT refund situation may switch from the quarterly VAT return filing frequency into the monthly returns to improve their cash flow.
  • SWITZERLAND – The Swiss tax authorities are going to allow the affected businesses to defer their VAT payments with no interest charge until the end of 2020.
  • NORWAY – the deadline for payment of VAT for January-February 2020 period has been postponed from the 10th of April to the 10th of June 2020. Moreover, the tax administration will not impose enforcement fines for late submission of the VAT returns. In addition to that, VAT rate for passenger transport, accommodation, public broadcasting as well as access to cinema, sporting events, amusement parks and adventure centres will be reduced from 12% to 8% from 1 April to 31 October 2020. Link to the Norwegian tax authorities’ announcement can be found here (in English): https://www.skatteetaten.no/en/package-of-measures-in-connection-with-the-coronavirus-situation/#value-added-tax-vat
  • CYPRUS – the measures reported in our newsletter of the 17th of March may now be reconsidered by the Cypriot government.
  • JAPAN – Japan may be reconsidering the implementation of the consumption tax measures, which were outlined in our newsletter of the 17th of March.

If you have any queries on the above, please get in touch with either your regular Essentia or Quipsound contact, or alternatively Marta Gałązka (+44 203 713 3535; marta.galazka@essentiaglobalservices.com)

Here is a summary of some emergency VAT measures to combat the financial impact of this pandemic, current as at 17 March 2020:

ITALY

  • The Italian Ministry of Finance announced on Friday, 13 of March that all the VAT payments due by March 16, 2020 will be postponed. Now it looks like the VAT payments for small businesses (with annual turnover below EUR 2m) will be postponed until 31st of May 2020 whereas for the remaining taxpayers the payments will be deferred until the 20th of March 2020. Moreover, all VAT declarations filings are to be postponed until the 30th of June 2020, including the Annual VAT Return for 2019 period. Businesses can apply for a 5-month payment plan.

SPAIN

  • Last week the Spanish Tax Agency published on their website a statement about the extension of the deadlines in VAT procedures. The Spanish Tax Agency also published on their website some provisional instructions on applying for a VAT deferral in accordance with the Royal Decree of 12 March foreseen for SMEs and professionals (with the last year’s turnover below EUR 6m), i.e. automatic 6-month VAT payment deferral will be granted for the VAT returns with a filing deadline between 13 March – 30 May 2020 and resulting with a VAT payment of up to EUR 30k. In addition, no late payment interest will be due for the first 3 months of a delay in payment. Link to the Spanish Tax Agency’s announcement can be found here:

https://www.agenciatributaria.es/AEAT.internet/Inicio/_componentes_/_Le_interesa_conocer/Instrucciones_provisionales_para_solicitar_aplazamientos_conforme_al_Real_Decreto_ley_7_2020__de_12_de_marzo_.shtml

GERMANY

  • The German tax authorities are offering a possibility to apply for delayed VAT payments as of the 13th of March 2020.

AUSTRIA

  • Application can be made to the tax authorities to postpone payment of VAT or payment via instalments. Application can also be made for reduction/waiver of late payment interest.

FRANCE 

  • Businesses can apply for a suspension of their tax payments due in March 2020.

UK

IRELAND 

POLAND

  • On the 11th of March 2020 the Polish Ministry of Finance informed that entrepreneurs who, due to the coronavirus, will have problems paying their taxes in a timely manner can apply for a reduction/relief or waiver/remission of arrears. Further detailed support should be announced by the Ministry of Finance in due course. In addition, the go-live date for the implementation of the combined SAF-T file with the VAT returns for large companies (the details of which Essentia provided to its readers in our February 2020 VAT Life publication) will be postponed from the 1st of April 2020 onto the 1st of July 2020. Moreover, the tax authorities are also to make the VAT refunds quicker. For full details about the proposed ‘shield package for companies’ follow this link: https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/pakiet-oslonowy-dla-firm-w-zwiazku-z-koronawirusem

SWEDEN

  • The government is proposing an opportunity for temporary deferral with payment of VAT which is proposed to enter into force on April 7. The deferral period may be set for a maximum of one year.

NETHERLANDS

  • The government has announced that the Dutch tax authorities will grant a deferral of payment for any VAT if a company will motivate in writing that it has run into financial issues due to the coronavirus. As soon as the tax authorities receive such a request, they will put the collection of tax on hold.

CYPRUS

  • Cypriot government announced a temporary reduction of the standard VAT rate from 19% to 17% for 2 months and bringing down the reduced rate of 9% (applicable mainly to hotel accommodation, restaurant and catering services or domestic passenger transport) to 7.5% for 3.5 months.

JAPAN

  • Japan is considering temporarily lowering its Consumption tax rate from 10% to 5% on top of delaying the filing and payment deadlines by 1 month until April 2020.

CHINA

  • The country where the first cases of the coronavirus epidemic were detected has put some extensive measures in place to overcome the crisis, e.g. expanding temporarily the scope of the VAT exemption for goods and services needed to combat the effects of the virus, exempting temporarily from VAT all small-scale VAT payers located in Hubei Province or extending monthly VAT returns filing deadline for February and March 2020 periods by 2 weeks and 1 week, respectively.

Not driven by the crisis, but nevertheless extremely timely, is a European Court of Justice case concerning remote consultations with Doctors (which may become much more popular in the coming months).

The case related to a German company X-GmbH providing medical advice to insured persons and running patient support programmes for those suffering from chronic or long-term diseases. The medical consultations were provided over a healthcare telephone line, supported by an on-line assessment which allowed the consultant to put the patients’ situation into a medical context before providing the advice. The German authorities felt that this remoteness brought the service out of the VAT exemption for medical care. However, the CJEU held that the main criterion for determining whether or not the medical services could be exempt from VAT is whether those services pursue a ‘therapeutic aim’ regardless of the place or means of providing of such services. More details of the case can be found here .