Refusal to grant a tax exemption to an intra-community supply due to the absence of VAT identification number in the country of arrival

Can Member States refuse to grant a tax exemption in respect of an intra-Community supply (in this instance, an intra-Community transfer) when the VAT identification number (in the country of arrival) is missing on the invoice while there is no specific evidence of tax evasion, the goods have been moved to another Member State and the other conditions of exemption from tax are also met?

In dealing with this question, the ECJ replied negatively and reminded the two situations in which the failure to meet a formal requirement may result in the loss of entitlement to an exemption from VAT decided by an authority of a Member State, that is (i) when the taxable person has intentionally participated in tax evasion which has jeopardized the operation of the common system of VAT and (ii) the non-compliance with a formal requirement which would effectively prevent the production of conclusive evidence that the substantive requirements have been satisfied.

This judgment is in line with a recent inclination of the ECJ to give less consideration to the formal requirements laid down in the VAT rules, such as in the recent case Senatex (C-518/14) regarding the statements required on invoices (see our previous article).

Michel Guichard

Michel Guichard, Partner, leads the Indirect Tax activity. With more than 30 years’ experience in International and French Tax law, he advises his clients on indirect tax matters. Michel is […]

Odile Courjon

Odile Courjon, Partner, has developed a strong expertise in indirect tax issues (VAT, wage taxes, excise taxes, export control and customs) in France and overseas. She advises her clients in […]

Bertrand Jeannin

Bertrand Jeannin, Partner, supplies strategic and technical advice to French and foreign multinational groups in all aspects of their VAT and customs policies. Major focuses of Bertrand’s input involve the […]

William Stemmer

William Stemmer, Partner, has more than 15 years’ experience in Indirect Tax matters. William particularly specializes in the real estate and financial sectors. William is a lecturer at the University […]

Anne Gerometta

Anne, Director, has been advising companies on indirect tax issues for more than 15 years. Anne has developed a specific expertise on the manufacturing sector (VAT, customs and Export Control) […]