ECJ C-396/20 (CHEP Equipment Pooling) – Questions – Should Hungary have asked for further info before rejecting (part of) the (8th Directive) VAT refund request?

We remember CHEP Equipment Pooling from the case they raised in 2019 regarding deemed supply of own goods/cross-border VAT refund. It seems the company has another VAT dispute, this time with the Hungarian VAT authorities. On 30/07/2020, the Kúria – Hungary raised questions to the ECJ.

Article in the EU VAT Directive

Article 20(1) of Council Directive 2008/9/EC


The applicant, a company established in Belgium, owns the European pallet company CHEP. As a taxable person established in another EU Member State, the applicant filed an application on 28 September 2017 for a refund of input tax that she had paid on goods and services she had acquired in Hungary in 2016. The tax authority at first instance requested documents and a statement on 143 invoices. After receiving the additional information, the tax authority at first instance partially granted the request. The partial rejection had to do with the fact that the amount claimed had already been (partially) refunded and because the refund of a higher VAT amount than stated on the invoice is not possible. The defendant has confirmed the decision of the authority at first instance. In its legal action, the applicant requested a review of the defendant’s decision. The court of first instance dismissed the applicant’s appeal. According to the grounds for that judgment, the right to a refund, the initiation of proceedings and the determination of the amount of VAT eligible for refund are in the hands of the applicant / applicant. The defendant can only request additional information if it is necessary to take a well-founded decision or if relevant information is missing, which was not the case in the present case. With her appeal in cassation, the applicant asks for the judgment in first instance to be set aside and for her request to be allowed. She argues that that judgment is contrary to the principle of fiscal neutrality.


In relation to the Directive, the question of interpretation arises whether, in the event of a difference to the detriment of the taxable person, the national tax authority can take the view that it has received all the relevant information to enable it to take an informed decision on the refund, even if it does not taxpayer has not requested additional information. In other words, whether an established discrepancy between the amounts stated in the request and the invoices is not useful information on which the tax authority must request additional information, so that it is not obliged to draw attention to these weaknesses in the request.



Must Article 20(1) of Council Directive 2008/9/EC 1 of 12 February 2008 laying down detailed rules for the refund of value added tax, provided for in Directive 2006/112/EC, to taxable persons not established in the Member State of refund but established in another Member State (Directive 2008/9/EC) be interpreted as meaning that, even where there are clear numerical discrepancies (not involving a proportional deduction) between the refund application and the invoice that are to the disadvantage of the taxable person, the Member State of refund may deem that there is no need to request additional information and that it has received all the relevant information on which to make a decision in respect of the refund?

AG Opinion


Personal comments/VATupdate 


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