Electronic record keeping of sales in the Czech Republic

Each Minister of Finance has the task to secure enough income for the state treasury. Andrej Babiš, the new Czech Minister of Finance is no exception. No wonder that after being appointed to the position, he started pushing through many innovations. One of the most controversial issues is his effort to introduce online record keeping of sales (ORKS) that is to be introduced in the Czech Republic as of January 2016. This record keeping is expected to reduce grey economy and make tax collection more efficient. According to Babiš, it should also balance out the lower income from VAT, which is due to the expected decrease of VAT rate for restaurants from 21% to 15%, rectifying the current illogicality when in the case of buying food the VAT rate is 15% and by subsequent sale of processed food the rate increases to 21%. ORKS advocates also believe it will improve the competitiveness of honest traders in comparison with those who do not duly pay taxes. To what extent these objectives may be actually met depends on many various factors.

According to estimates, introducing ORKS should lead to an increase in the number of VAT payers in tens of thousands. It should concern those business entities that generate their income in the following ways: cash, via credit cards, vouchers, cheques, promissory notes or other means representing money. ORKS thus does not concern those who only invoice and receive money on their banking accounts. So far, no amount after which an entity exceeding this limit would be obliged to introduce ORKS, has been established, which means that the obligations concern all entities – at least for the time being. However, some exceptions are being discussed: ORKS should not apply to maverick sales on marketplaces, but it should involve those selling on such marketplaces regularly. This rule is parallel to the current duty to pay tax. Introducing the ORKS system is primarily aimed at those entities who claim they do not reach the VAT registration threshold, which is currently CZK 1 million (approx. EUR 36,300.00).

The system is to follow the Croatian model, introduced at the beginning of 2013. „The Croatian system is simple, it does not excessively burden business entities and thanks to online connection to the tax office, there is no space for subsequent modifications in actually received and documented income,“ Minister Babiš said after a round of consultations. The truth is the Croatians praise this system, however, the same success is not guaranteed in the Czech Republic with regards to the fact that the Croatians had huge problems with tax collection before the ORKS was introduced, its effect was thus very significant.
Babiš´s department has still not made it clear how expensive such a system will be for the state and for the business entities. Experts estimate that costs of introducing the system will be around CZK 2.5 billion (EUR 90 million). The system is not expected to require any costs on the part of business entities, but common cash registers, mobile phones or tablets connected to the internet and printer should be sufficient. When selling goods or services, the seller will enter the transaction into the system, the transaction will be sent to the central registry and return back with a validation code that will be printed on the receipt issued by the seller. The exact technical solution has not been specified yet, the Ministry of Finance presumes the IT market will work in its favour starting to offer tailor-made packages for business entities. Nevertheless, this reaction will be considerably delayed with respect to the fact that no specifications for software via which business entities will communicate, are not known.

The system has many pitfalls, considered by its opponents to be great risks. These include, inter alia, bad internet connection in some localities (e.g. ski centres), the communication with central registry may lead to system failures and the need to enter transactions into records a posteriori. The greatest threat seems to lie in simply getting around the system, when the seller will not print the receipt when the buyer does not require it, or in more complex frauds of issuing receipts with fake codes (in this connection introducing “receipt lottery” is considered, but this lottery did not prove successful in the Slovak Republic).

Author: Tomas Havlik, Kancelář CATO s.r.o., Prague

EU: VAT-news

Czech Republic – Proposal to bring single 19% VAT rate from 2012 defeated

Proposal from Czech Finance Minister, Miroslav Kalousek, to bring in a single 19% higher VAT rate from start 2012 has been defeated. The proposal to rush in a higher rate of VAT than under a previously agreed timetable was challenged by junior member of the coalition. Under the existing timetable, two rates of higher VAT at 20 percent and 14 would be introduced next year with a single 17.5 percent rate coming in 2013. Kalousek had been proposing a single 19% higher rate to come in from start of 2012.

France – New 2011 taxation rules for conference and event organisers in France

On the 28 March 2011 the French Tax Authorities published an official guideline on the new VAT place of supply rules for event related services
This guideline is clarifying the impact of the VAT changes that were introduced by the Directive 2008/8/EC dated 12 February 2008 and came into force on the 1st January 2011, and deals in particular with services supplied in connection with conferences, congresses, trade fairs, etc. The information in this administrative guidance can be very useful for taxable persons who are either attending, or organising events in France. It brings some level of response to the uncertainty created by the new EU VAT taxation rules in this area, and also sheds some light on the implementation of those rules in France by featuring specific examples and solutions for various situations.

The information in this guideline is focusing the following items:

  • VAT place of supply rules for services in respect of admission to an event
  • VAT place of supply rules for event organisation services
  • VAT place of supply rules for rental of exhibition space
  • VAT place of supply rules for a complex package of services supplied within the frame of an event

However this guideline is also dealing with other questions such as VAT taxation rules for services rendered by Professional Congress Organisers („PCO“) or the VAT place of supply rules for training services.

Greece – VAT rate on food and drinks supplied for immediate consumption to increase from 1 September 2011

The VAT rate applicable to non-alcoholic beverages and to the supply of food for immediate consumption in restaurants, as well as on some connected services is to increase from 13% to 23% (16% in the Agean Islands) from the 1st of September 2011.

This change will not affect food and beverages supplied in canteens used by medical, educational or social welfare organisations. Also, this change will not affect food intended for mass consumption that are ready to eat and are sold in packages in the restaurant/take-away.

Hungary – Hungary’s VAT regulatory practices not compliant with EU VAT Directive

The European Court of Justice found that Hungary’s practices are incompatible with EU law and need to be modified. The current situation allows taxable persons to deduct the input VAT of their acquisitions from the amount of VAT payable. If the amount that is deductible is greater than the VAT payable the excess can then be reclaimed, except where the taxpayer has not paid the consideration.

This means that for certain taxpayers the opportunity to reclaim VAT is postponed for several tax periods, this was considered by the ECJ in its decision on 28th July 2011 to be  contrary to the EU VAT Directive.

Ireland – Introduction of a new reduced VAT rate of 9%

The Minister for Finance has announced that a second reduced VAT rate of 9% will be introduced in respect of certain goods and services (mainly related to tourism) for the period 1 July 2011 to 31 December 2013 under the “Jobs Initiative 2011”. The new VAT rate is effective from the 1st of July 2011.

Ireland – Update on the deduction rules for Car related expenses

The information used to prepare this update is contained in the VAT Leaflets published on the Irish Revenue website: http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/vat/index.html

1. Purchase of cars

The purchase of a car in Ireland is subject to Irish VAT. VAT incurred on this purchase is usually not deductible. However, a VAT registered trader may deduct VAT if the car is used 100 % for business and if it belongs to category B or C, i.e. commercial vehicles.

There is an exception to this rule, Motor dealers and driving schools may recover VAT incurred on the purchase of a wider range of vehicles.
From the first January 2009 a trader can also recover some of the VAT incurred in relation to the purchase of category A vehicles, i.e. saloons, estates, hatchbacks, convertibles, etc. However there are conditions;

  • Vehicles must have been registered on or after the 1st Jan 2009
  • CO2 emissions must be less than 156g / km (Co2 emission bands A, B or C)
  • At least 60% of the vehicle’s use must be for business
  • The car must be used for business purpose for at least 2 years

Where those conditions are fulfilled it is possible to recover up to 20% of the VAT paid.

2. Hire and leasing of cars

VAT is recoverable on the hire and leasing of cars under the same conditions than above, i.e. full deduction of VAT may be possible if the car is category B or C and 100% used for business purposes and up to 20% deduction is possible for cars belonging to category A where the conditions described above are fulfilled.

3. Repairs and servicing of cars

VAT is recoverable on repair and servicing of cars under the same conditions than above, i.e. full deduction of VAT may be possible if the car is category B or C and 100% used for business purposes and up to 20% deduction is possible for cars belonging to category A where the conditions described above are fulfilled.

4. Petrol and diesel

VAT registered traders are not entitled to recover VAT incurred on the purchase of petrol.

VAT is fully recoverable on diesel by VAT registered traders if the vehicle is used 100% for business.

5. Toll bridges and car parking

VAT registered traders are entitled to deduct VAT incurred on toll bridges and “off-street” car parking. VAT should be fully recoverable by VAT registered traders if the vehicle is used 100% for business. VAT on “on-street” car parking is exempt.

The Irish revenue has created categories of vehicles ; A, B, C, D, M, M1, M2 etc. only commercial vehicles in categories B and C open right to VAT deduction, Category A is for vehicles such as estates, saloons, convertibles, etc., that are not designed as commercial vehicles.

United Kingdom – HMRC will target businesses who have not registered to pay VAT

HMRC has launched a campaign to target businesses that are trading above the VAT registration threshold (73,000 GBP) but are not registered for VAT.

Under the terms of the VAT Initiative, those who have not registered to pay VAT can come forward any time up to 30 September to tell HMRC that they want to take part. If they make a full disclosure, most face a low penalty rate of 10 per cent on VAT that has been paid late. After 30 September, using information pulled together from different sources, HMRC will investigate those who have failed to come forward. Substantial penalties or even criminal prosecution could follow. HMRC uses new technology and legislation to gather and analyse data, from internal and external sources, to identify people who should come forward.

United Kingdom – Businesses call for VAT cut

Fears that the UK economy has flatlined in the nine months since October have led to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to call for yet another VAT rate change urging the government to drop VAT to 5% in certain sectors. While this approach has been adopted in other jurisdictions such as France, Germany and most recently Ireland there is little evidence of a positive impact and in some cases questions over whether these reductions were being passed on to end consumers at all.

United Kingdom – HMRC continue to move VAT on-line – Consultation Document Released

HMRC has just released a consultation document covering the changes to the operation of VAT and moving of more transactions on-line. HMRC proposes that from 1st of April 2012, for businesses with a turnover below £100,000, it will be compulsory to file VAT returns on-line and make electronic payment of any VAT due. On-line filing is currently optional for these smaller businesses, however, all new businesses that registered for VAT since 1 April 2010 and larger businesses, with a turnover of £100,000 or more are obliged to file and make VAT payments on-line.

Author: Tamás Bajor, Vienna Consult Kft., www.viennaconsult.hu

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