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Roadtrip through ECJ Cases – Right to Deduct VAT and ”Substance over form” concept

The Right to Deduct VAT has 2 conditions, a substantative condition and a formal consition:

  • [Substance] The goods have been delivered or the services performed and
  • [Formal] that the taxable person holds the invoice or the document which, under the criteria determined by the Member State in question, may be considered to serve as an invoice

The ECJ has decided in many cases that the Right to Deduct VAT should be granted in case the Substantive condition is met, even if the Formal Condition is not fulfilled.

Articles in the EU VAT Directive

Article 168 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC

Substantative condition: Article 168
In so far as the goods and services are used for the purposes of the taxed transactions of a taxable person, the taxable person shall be entitled, in the Member State in which he carries out these transactions, to deduct the following from the VAT which he is liable to pay:
(a) the VAT due or paid in that Member State in respect of supplies to him of goods or services, carried out or to be carried out by another taxable person;
(b) the VAT due in respect of transactions treated as supplies of goods or services pursuant to Article 18 (a)and Article 27;
(c) the VAT due in respect of intra-Community acquisitions of goods pursuant to Article 2(1)(b)(i);
(d) the VAT due on transactions treated as intra-Community acquisitions in accordance with Articles 21 and 22;
(e) the VAT due or paid in respect of the importation of goods into that Member State.

Formal condition: Article 178
In order to exercise the right of deduction, a taxable person must meet the following conditions:
(a) for the purposes of deductions pursuant to Article 168(a), in respect of the supply of goods or services, he must hold an invoice drawn up in accordance with Sections 3 to 6 of Chapter 3 of Title XI;
(b) for the purposes of deductions pursuant to Article 168(b), in respect of transactions treated as the supply of goods or services, he must comply with the formalities as laid down by each Member State;
(c) for the purposes of deductions pursuant to Article 168(c), in respect of the intra-Community acquisition of goods, he must set out in the VAT return provided for in Article 250 all the information needed for the amount of VAT due on his intra-Community acquisitions of goods to be calculated and he must hold an invoice drawn up in accordance with Sections 3 to 5 of Chapter 3 of Title XI;
(d) for the purposes of deductions pursuant to Article 168(d), in respect of transactions treated as intra-Community acquisitions of goods, he must complete the formalities as laid down by each Member State;
(e) for the purposes of deductions pursuant to Article 168(e), in respect of the importation of goods, he must hold an import document specifying him as
consignee or importer, and stating the amount of VAT due or enabling that amount to be calculated;
(f) when required to pay VAT as a customer where Articles 194 to 197 or Article 199 apply, he must comply with the formalities as laid down by each Member State.

ECJ Cases – Decided

ECJ Cases – Pending

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