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Guidance: Person liable for the tax – Special case of e-commerce operations facilitated by means of electronic interfaces

The fact that a delivery of goods relating to e-commerce is facilitated by means of an electronic interface ( II § 90 to 190 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60 ) has two consequences on the accountability of the value added tax (VAT):

  • in the event of “direct” distance selling of imported goods (VAD-BI), the taxable person facilitating is liable for VAT on the import operation resulting from the sale, regardless of the value of the imported goods ( whether or not exceeding €150). This is also the case for “ indirect” VAD-BI not exceeding €150;
  • in the event of application of the purchase-resale scheme, the taxable person facilitating is also liable for VAT on the facilitated transaction.

I. Person liable for import VAT in the event of VAD-BI

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It follows from the combination of 1° and 2° of 2 of article 293 A of the CGI that, for VAD-BIs facilitated by a taxable person by means of the use of an electronic interface (for the definition of facilitation , please refer to II § 90 to 190 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60 ), the person liable for import VAT in mainland France is this taxable person facilitating.

However, this derogatory rule does not apply to “indirect” VAD-BI exceeding €150, i.e. when the VAD-BI is territorialized in another Member State of the European Union ( II § 50 to 70 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-20-20-30 ). Indeed, in such a situation, it is the seller who will be designated liable for the import in that he carries out the “indirect” VAD-BI operation (CGI, art. 293 A, 2, 1°) . He will thus be able to deduct, under the conditions of common law, the VAT due on importation (refer to the remark in II-L-1 § 220 of BOI-TVA-DED-10-20 ).

Note : For a detailed study of the accountability rules applicable to import operations, please refer to II § 30 to 130 of BOI-TVA-DECLA-10-20 .

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When the facilitating taxable person is liable for import VAT in mainland France, he is subject to the formalities specific to import VAT and benefits from the related facilities, in particular the exemption from declaration in the event of use of the so-called “Import One Stop Shop” (“IOSS”) counter ( II-L § 390 and 400 of BOI-TVA-DECLA-20-20-10-20 ).

Note : The liable facilitator is in particular liable for import VAT in the case of so-called “direct” VAD-BIs exceeding €150 for which the purchase-resale scheme does not apply ( II-B- 2 § 180 and 190 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60 ) and although said VAD-BI are not territorialized in the EU ( II § 60 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-20-20- 30 ).

The conditions for deducting this VAT depend on the application of the purchase-resale scheme to the VAD-BI concerned II-L-1 § 190 to 230 of BOI-TVA-DED-10-20 ) .

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Summary table of persons liable for import VAT in mainland France in the event of facilitation by means of an electronic interface
Nature of the operation Intrinsic value of the shipment Liable for VAT on the import operation
“Direct” VAD-BI (import into mainland France for mainland France) Less than or equal to 150 € Taxable facilitator
More than 150 € Subject to facilitator, except option of the seller ( CGI, art. 293 A, 2, 3° and CGI, 293 A quater, II, 1° ) ( II-D § 130 of BOI-TVA-DECLA-10-20 )
“Indirect” VAD-BI import into mainland France destined for another Member State) Less than or equal to 150 € Taxable facilitator
More than 150 € Seller

Intrinsic value: value of the shipment as defined in II-B-2 § 180 and 190 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60 .

Facilitating taxable person: taxable person who facilitates, through the use of an electronic interface, a distance sale of imported goods in accordance with II § 90 to 180 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60 .

VAD-BI: distance selling of goods imported from a third territory or third country as defined in 2° of II bis of article 256 of the CGI ( I § 20 to 80 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40- 60 ).

II. Liable for VAT in the event of application of the purchase-resale scheme

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In the event of application of the purchase-resale scheme ( II § 90 to 190 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60 ), each taxable person is liable for VAT on the transaction that he is deemed achieve. The seller is therefore liable for VAT on the delivery to the taxable person facilitating and the taxable person facilitating is liable for VAT on the transaction to the customer.

As the purchase-resale scheme is a fiction created for VAT purposes, the taxable person facilitating the delivery of goods to the end customer is not always in possession of the goods nor, initially, of all the information necessary to comply with its obligations with regard to VAT. To do this, it must rely on the information provided by the underlying provider. The liable facilitator will often be dependent on the accuracy of the information transmitted by the suppliers. This is why, theArticle 5c of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2026 of 21 November 2019 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 282/2011 as regards the supply of goods or the provision of services facilitated by electronic interfaces and the special regimes applicable to taxable persons who provide services to non-taxable persons and carry out distance sales of goods and certain domestic deliveries of goods lay down a principle of limited liability of the taxable person facilitating. The latter cannot be held liable for the payment of VAT in excess of the VAT that he declared and paid when, for each transaction concerned:

  • the taxable person who facilitates demonstrates that he is dependent on the information transmitted by the suppliers who sell goods by means of his electronic interface or by other third parties in order to correctly declare and pay the VAT on these deliveries;
  • the information referred to is incorrect;
  • the liable facilitator can demonstrate that he was unaware and could not reasonably have known that this information was incorrect.

For more details on the implementation of this limited liability, on the extent of the burden of proof incumbent on the taxable person as well as for illustrative practices, please refer to point 2.1.9 of the notes. Explanatory notes from the Commission on the VAT rules for e-commerce – PDF (2.8 MB) .

The tables presented in II § 50 to 70 specify this point for each of the three categories of transactions eligible for the scheme:

  • deliveries of goods not imported within mainland France;
  • VAD-ICs;
  • VAD-BIs.

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Summary table of the taxable person liable for VAT on a delivery of goods not imported within metropolitan France
Place of departure Arrival point Qualification of the operation Supplier established in the EU Facilitation through an electronic interface Accountable
France France Domestic delivery Yes No Provider
France France Domestic delivery Yes Yes Provider
France France Domestic delivery No No Provider
France France Domestic delivery No Yes Taxable facilitator

Facilitating taxable person: taxable person who facilitates, through the use of an electronic interface such as a marketplace, platform, portal or similar device, the supply of goods in the European Union by a non-established taxable person on the territory of the European Union to a non-taxable person ( CGI, art. 256, V, 2°,b ) ( II § 90 to 190 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60 ).

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Summary table of the taxable person liable for VAT on a VAD-IC
Place of departure Arrival point Qualification of the operation Supplier established in the EU Facilitation through an electronic interface Accountable
EU member state France VAD-IC Yes No Provider
EU member state France VAD-IC Yes Yes Provider
EU member state France VAD-IC No No Provider
EU member state France VAD-IC No Yes Taxable facilitator

EU Member State: means a Member State of the European Union other than France.

Facilitating taxable person: taxable person who facilitates, through the use of an electronic interface such as a marketplace, platform, portal or similar device, the supply of goods in the European Union by a non-established taxable person on the territory of the European Union to a non-taxable person (CGI, art. 256, V-2°-b) (II § 90 to 190 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60).

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Summary table of the taxable person liable for a VAD-BI
Place of departure Import country Arrival point Facilitation through an electronic interface Shipment value Accountable
Third country Not important France or other EU member state If applicable ≤ €150 Taxable person who has opted for the IOSS (seller or taxable person facilitator if applicable)
Third country EU member state Metropolitan France (VAD-BI “indirect”) No Not applicable Seller
Third country EU member state Metropolitan France (VAD-BI “indirect”) Yes > 150€ Seller
Third country EU member state Metropolitan France (“indirect” VAD-BI Yes ≤ €150 Taxable facilitator
Third country Metropolitan France Metropolitan France (“direct” VAD-BI) No Not applicable No VAT is due in metropolitan France on the VAD-BI (which is territorialized outside the EU).
By way of exception, in the event of the seller’s option to be liable for import VAT ( CGI, art. 293 A, 2, 3° and CGI, 293 A quater, II, 1 °), the VAD-BI is located in France ( article 258 of the CGI, V, 1° , II-D § 130 of the BOI-TVA-DECLA-10-20 ) and the seller is also liable for VAT on this delivery.
Third country Metropolitan France Metropolitan France (“direct” VAD-BI) Yes > 150€
Third country Metropolitan France Metropolitan France (“direct” VAD-BI) Yes ≤ €150 Taxable facilitator

EU Member State: means a Member State of the European Union other than France.

Third country: country not belonging to the European Union and territory of a Member State excluded from the territory of the European Union ( CGI, art. 256-0 ).

Facilitator taxable person: taxable person who facilitates, through the use of an electronic interface such as a marketplace, platform, portal or similar device, the distance selling of goods imported from third territory or third countries referred to in a. ) of 2° of V of article 256 of the CGI (II § 90 to 180 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60).

Value of the shipment : intrinsic value as defined in II-B-2 § 180 and 190 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60 .

IOSS : provided for by article 298 sexdecies H of the CGI ( BOI-TVA-DECLA-20-20-60 )

Example: A seller markets goods, via an electronic interface, directly to a non-taxable person located in France. Goods sold, stored in warehouses located in China, are imported into France (for example, upon arrival at Paris-Roissy Charles de Gaulle). The intervention of the electronic interface in the sales process fulfills the conditions of facilitation as recalled in II § 90 to 190 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-10-40-60. The operation thus carried out must be qualified as VAD-BI, facilitated by the electronic interface, with a coincidence between the Member State of import and the Member State of arrival of the transport or dispatch of the goods (VAD-BI “direct “).

Assumption no. 1  : The goods are contained in a shipment with an intrinsic value not exceeding €150. Consequently, the operator of the electronic interface facilitating this operation is deemed to have personally acquired the goods from the seller and to have resold them to the French customer.

The methods of declaration and payment of the VAT relating to the VAD-BI will depend on the choice to use the special regime provided for by article 298 sexdecies H of the CGI (“IOSS”) made by the electronic interface:

  • if the operator of the interface adheres to the “IOSS” mechanism ( BOI-TVA-DECLA-20-20-60 ), it benefits from exemption from VAT on the import operation;

The VAT due on the VAD-BI operation will be declared and paid to the tax authorities of the Member State in which it is registered with the “IOSs”;

  • if the operator of the electronic interface does not adhere to the “IOSS” mechanism, the VAT due on the VAD-BI operation as well as that due due to the import operation must be declared and paid to supporting the filing of a turnover declaration under the conditions of common law (see BOI-TVA-DECLA-20-20-10 ).

Assumption no. 2: The goods are contained in a shipment with a value exceeding €150. Consequently, the operator of the electronic interface facilitating this operation is not deemed to have personally acquired and delivered the goods.

The operator of the electronic interface will only be liable for import VAT pursuant to 1 of article 293 A of the CGI , no VAT being due in France under the VAD-BI which is not is not located under c of IV of article 258 of the CGI .

Hypothesis n° 3: Resumption of hypothesis 2. The good is customs cleared in France and the seller opts, during this customs clearance, to be liable for import VAT in application of 1° of II of article 293 Aside from CGI . Under the terms of 1° of V of article 258 of the CGI, the delivery is also located in France. The seller declares and pays the VAT on the import and on the delivery under the conditions of common law, via his declaration of turnover; he can deduct the VAT on the import on this same declaration.

Source: gouv.fr

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