ECJ C-396/20 (CHEP Equipment Pooling) – Decision – Hungary can not reject Refund of VAT if it has not asked further info before rejection

On October 21, 2021, the ECJ issued its decision in the case C-396/20 (CHEP Equipment Pooling).

Context: Reference for a preliminary ruling – Taxation – Value added tax (VAT) – Procedures for reimbursement of VAT in favor of taxable persons who are not established in the Member State of reimbursement – Directive 2008/9 / EC – Article 20, paragraph 1 – Request for additional information by the Member State of reimbursement – Items liable to be the subject of a request for additional information – Discrepancy between the amount shown on the reimbursement request and the amount appearing on the invoices produced – Principle of good administration – Principle of VAT neutrality – Period of foreclosure – Consequences on the rectification of the taxable person’s error

Article in the EU VAT Directive

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

When the Member State of reimbursement considers that it does not have all the information which would enable it to rule on all or part of the reimbursement request, it may request, by electronic means, additional information, in particular from the applicant or the competent authorities of the Member State of establishment, within the four-month period referred to in Article 19 (2). Where this additional information is requested from a person other than the applicant or the competent authorities of a Member State, the request must be transmitted electronically only, if the recipient of the request is equipped accordingly.

If necessary, the Member State of reimbursement may request further additional information.

The information requested in accordance with this paragraph may also include, if the Member State of reimbursement has reason to doubt the validity or accuracy of a particular claim, the original or a copy of the invoice or document of payment. import concerned. The thresholds referred to in Article 10 do not apply in this case.


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



Article 20, paragraph 1, of Council Directive 2008/9 / EC of 12 February 2008, defining the modalities for the reimbursement of value added tax, provided for by Directive 2006/112 / EC, in favor of taxable persons who are not established in the Member State of reimbursement, but in another Member State, read in the light of the principles of fiscal neutrality and good administration, must be interpreted as meaning that it precludes the tax administration of the Member State of the refund, if the latter has acquired certainty, where applicable in the light of additional information provided by the taxable person, that the amount of value added tax actually paid upstream, as mentioned in the invoice attached to the reimbursement request, is greater than the amount shown on this request,refund the value added tax up to the latter amount only, without having previously invited the taxable person, with diligence and using the means which they deem the most appropriate, to rectify their refund request with a deemed request be made on the date of the initial request.

Personal comments/VATupdate 


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