The Commission proposes new rules to uniform the tax treatment for vouchers

According to the European Commission, differences in national VAT rules on vouchers lead to serious market inefficiencies. For this reason, it proposes new rules to ensure the uniform tax treatment of all types of vouchers across all Member States.

Vouchers represent a market of more than €52 billion per year in the European Union. Prepaid telecommunications account for almost 70% of the voucher market, followed by gift vouchers and discount vouchers. The European Commission proposes to update EU VAT rules for this market because currently, differences in national VAT rules on vouchers lead to serious market inefficiencies. Therefore, instead of being able to really benefit from the Single Market, companies face problems of double taxation and difficulties in expanding their business across borders. In January 2012, the Commission also proposed One Stop Shop for cross border VAT compliance.

In particular, the Commission proposes to harmonise the definition of vouchers for VAT purposes and the point of taxation for voucher transactions, to prevent mismatches which result in double taxation or double non-taxation. With the new rules it intends also to draw a clear line between vouchers and other means of payment. Finally, the Commission stressed that the Directive sets up common rules for the distribution of vouchers in a chain of intermediaries, especially where this extends across two or more Member States.

On the other hand, the Impact Assessment accompanying the proposal concludes that the only effective way to deal with the identified shortcomings is to include the new provisions for vouchers in the VAT Directive. The Commission underlines that the different categories of vouchers would be clearly defined, along with their VAT treatment under the new rules. It also includes rules for vouchers passing through distribution chains and general means of payment. If approved, the new rules will enter into force on 1 January 2015.