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​EU Commission calls on Germany to align cross-border VAT refunds with EU law

We have heard several complaints about the way Germany restricts the foreign VAT refund process in order to deny the VAT reclaim. The International VAT Association (IVA), which is the world’s leading independent body on international VAT issues, representing the interests of businesses and advisers involved in VAT or equivalent turnover taxes around the globe, addressed this issue to the European Commission on behalf of its members.

The complaint to the European Commission related to cases where substantive information had been provided with the claims, but the German authorities denied the claims, because of technical infringements and if the deadline had passed, effectively denied the claimant the right to provide any additional information that might be requested to support its claim.

The IVA was of the view that this administrative practice was in breach of the provisions contained in The Refund Directive. In some cases Germany refused the refund applied for as Germany considered the provided information insufficient but did not request additional information from the applicants.

The European Commission agreed with the IVA’s arguments and has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Germany asking it to bring its VAT refund rules into line with EU legislation. The German practice leads to refunds being denied even when applicants fulfill the substantive requirements as laid down in EU law. If Germany does not act within the next two months, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the Court of Justice of the EU.

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