E-commerce in the European Union and its VAT changes in 2021
The European Union will implement new Value Added Tax (VAT) regulations on cross-border e-commerce businesses on 1 July 2021. Due to the increase in globalization, international trade and the need for worldwide tax controls, the new regulation aims to simplify and modernize the procedures.
How will this affect exporters from China? How can you regulate your sales in EU?
In response to the increase in globalization, international trade, and the need for worldwide tax controls, on 1 July 2021, the European Union will enact the new regulatory package of Value Added Tax (VAT) on e-commerce.
The package introduces the ‘Import One-Stop Shop’ electronic portal, which regulates the payments of e-commerce VAT in each member state. This change concerns the growth of e-commerce and digitalization, which have boosted international trade; Companies based in the European Union selling online can also export to mainland China and Hong Kong, and vice versa.
KEY CHANGES IN VAT REGULATIONS
- Changes in VAT declaration
The regulation includes an important change of the VAT collection method on e-commerce. Previously, VAT was paid in each European Union member state, depending on the seller’s location. To illustrate, if a seller in Germany sells products online to a Spanish client, VAT would be declared and taxed in origin, Germany.
As of 1 July, 2021, tax will be declared in the state where the buyer is located and the purchase is made. Hence, in the previous example, the VAT declaration would be made in Spain. This regulation also affects sellers outside the European Union.
- Exemptions of the VAT
The current system permits VAT exemptions on products imported to EU which are less than €22, while those products exporting from EU are still subject to VAT. This exemption makes imported products more competitive in terms of price compared to those of European origin.
The regulations as of 1 July will eliminate the e-commerce VAT exemption for products with a value of less than €22, which implies that all imports to EU, even those of little value, will be charged VAT at the destination. This is one of the most supported initiatives since it can balance the playing field between imported products and local products.
Meanwhile, imports of products with a value of less than €150 are still not subject to customs duties and do not require a full customs declaration.
IMPLICATIONS FOR ONLINE SELLERS FROM MAINLAND CHINA OR HONG KONG
The different online platforms and marketplaces are contemplated in this regulation as these platforms are, by far, the most used vehicles for the sale of online products from overseas, including China and other parts of Asia. On behalf of users and buyers, the platforms will act as guardians of compliance with the e-commerce VAT, which especially includes those outside the European Union member states and that import from non-member countries.
Although the general concern for exporters whose sales cover the entire EU territory is how to make the declaration in multiple states, the ‘Import One Stop Shop’ records, and files all declarations across the EU. On the contrary, if the seller does not want to use the ‘Import One Stop Shop’, the alternative is to allow the final consumer to pay VAT when the product is delivered, and all responsibilities and declarations rest on the consumers.
The foreign trade community is concerned about the increase in costs borne by the final consumers. As VAT is an indirect tax, it is transferable to final consumers. For example, a European consumer who initially purchases a product imported from China valued at €20 may have to pay €24.2 for the same product in Spain after the implementation on 1 July 2021.
There is a worldwide trend for regulation of VAT on imports. To demonstrate, some cross-border trading platforms in China require companies that ship products to pay VAT in advance for all merchandise.
How quickly will the final consumers adapt to the VAT regulations of electronic commerce in the European Union, especially in pandemic times? It is only a matter of time the end consumers adapt to these changes.
Written by Luz Deneb Martínez, Latin Department, CW CPA