Can national tax authorities refuse the right to deduct VAT solely because the taxable person holds an invoice which refers to “legal services rendered until the present date”, even though the same authorities have available all the necessary information for ascertaining whether the substantive conditions for the exercise of that right are satisfied?
Even if the Court held, following the question referred, that such mentions do not comply with the requirements of the VAT directive, the ECJ added that such a deficiency may not substantiate the rejection of the right to deduct VAT if the company provides evidence that the substantive conditions for the exercise of that right are satisfied.
This judgment represents a major softening of the European case law which considered so far that the right to deduct VAT was subordinate to the strict condition that the invoices include all the information required by the VAT directive. In France, the public guidelines already provided that the absence of a mention in an invoice did not necessarily deprive the company of its right to deduct VAT (BOI-TVA-DED-40-10-10 §55). The Conseil d’Etat had also demonstrated some flexibility (see in particular CE, 26 March 2012, n°326333).