Certificate from the Tax Authority for German Online Sellers
Proof of Tax Collection for Sellers who Sell Online
What is at Issue?
In recent months, there have been many reports in the press and online about the coming changes in tax supervision for online retailers selling their goods in electronic marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and Rakuten. The AccountOne team has now been able to take a closer look at the changes planned for 2019. In particular, at the Tax Consultant’s Convention 2018 in Bonn, we received more background information on the draft bill for the so-called Annual Tax Law 2018, which we will present here in more detail.
Through the provision found in § 22f of the proposed Sales Tax Law, operators in electronic marketplaces (such as eBay, Amazon, et al.) will be required to record data from users whose sales in Germany are subject to tax liability. So – it is really about the state preventing the loss of tax revenue from online selling.
The following data is expected to be collected by the operators of online marketplaces from 2019 and onwards:
– Name and address of the business that uses the platform to sell
– Tax number of the online business
– If applicable, the VAT ID number
– Origin of shipment and place of destination
– The date and amount of sale
With this data, the Tax Authority will have the option to check if a business owner who is shipping goods has duly fulfilled her tax obligations, or if a user has had the tax obligations fulfilled.
According to the new § 25e paragraph 1 UStG, the operator of an electronic marketplace will be liable for any unpaid taxes stemming from the delivery of goods from a business that sold their goods through the online marketplace but did not fulfill their tax obligations. Marketplace operators can avoid this liability, according to the government bill, if a certificate of taxation of the business exists. It is expected that the new tax law will be passed mid-December 2018. Therefore, a request for this certificate can likely not be submitted to the responsible tax office until the end of 2018. All German and European online businesses will have until September 30, 2019 to acquire this certificate. For online sellers from outside the EU (such as China for example), a certificate needs to be acquired already by February 28, 2019.
The Federal Council of Germany has insisted that for the suggested changes in this and other similar laws the option for an electronic application for the certificate be created. Everything else runs contrary to the idea of having a strategy for the digitalizing the federal Government.
We at AccountOne expect that in the absence of the aforementioned certificate, sellers from outside the EU, such as from China or the USA, from March 1, 2019 will simply have their seller accounts blocked by market operators such as Amazon, eBay, and others. This will also effect German and European sellers beginning on October 1, 2019. It will be interesting to see how the tax authorities handle this organizational feat.
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