EU VAT changes for virtual events and online courses
Sue Rathmell · July 5th 2023 · read
The place of supply for certain B2C virtual services to the EU will change from 1 January 2025.
The Changes Coming into Place
From 1 January 2025 the EU will introduce changes to the place of supply rules for business-to-consumer (B2C) services which are streamed or otherwise made available virtually. Key examples are live virtual events (online conferences/webinars) and distance learning courses that include live elements.
Currently, UK providers are subject to the general place of supply rules for B2C services, which stipulates that the supply is taxable where the supplier belongs. However, the changes from 1 January 2025 will change the place of supply from where the supplier belongs to where the consumer resides. B2B supplies of the same nature will be unaffected by these changes.
For example, a UK business is providing live online webinars to individuals in France for a fee. Prior to 1 January 2025, UK VAT will be charged and accounted for on these services. However, from 1 January 2025, the UK business will be required to charge VAT at the applicable rate in France and account for VAT to the French tax authorities.
HMRC have not yet responded to the changes, which leaves open questions around the impact on UK and EU suppliers. If the UK does not follow suit and apply the change in Place of Supply rules there is a risk of double taxation. Say a UK supplier is providing live virtual events to individual consumers in the EU. HMRC may deem the supply to have been made in the UK, whereas the EU would deem the supply as being made in the EU. In this instance both the UK and EU may require VAT to be accounted for by the UK supplier.
For EU supplies the reverse may take place. Say a French supplier is providing live virtual events to individual UK consumers. The EU would deem the place of supply to be where the consumer is based (UK), but the UK would continue to deem the place of supply to be where the supplier is based (France). From 1 January 2025, neither tax authority might require VAT to be accounted for on the supply, leaving the EU supplier in an unfairly beneficial position having escaped VAT altogether.
Until HMRC publish their stance on the upcoming changes, the impact on UK suppliers remains unknown.
Consequences for UK Businesses
The EU has a nil threshold for non-established traders which means that UK businesses affected by these changes will be required to account for VAT from the point of their first sale at the rate applicable in the member state of consumption. Without careful preparation, UK businesses could be faced with VAT registration obligations in several member states from 1 January 2025.
Businesses faced with these changes should consider the most appropriate options available to them. VAT registration will be required in each member state of consumption from the date of the first supply following 1 January 2025.
Alternatively, businesses can opt to use the One Stop Shop (OSS) simplification. OSS allows for a single EU wide registration in which businesses can account for VAT on all taxable sales in the EU under a single OSS return. This is a system that has already been rolled out and proved helpful in dealing with electronically supplies services where the place of supply for B2C services is where the consumer belongs.
The caveat to OSS is that currently input tax deduction is not permitted, meaning that costs incurred in the EU will not be recoverable. However, for most UK suppliers providing virtual services, costs will likely be incurred in the UK and input tax will be recoverable via a UK VAT return as the supply would have been taxable if made in the UK. This makes OSS an attractive solution for UK suppliers of virtual services. If VAT is incurred on costs in the EU, there is scope to recover the VAT under the 13th Directive refund procedure.
Now is the time to begin preparations and plan the right course ahead for your business, allowing for a smooth and compliant transition come 1 January 2025.
Get in touch
If you would like to discuss how these changes will impact you, then please get in contact with our VAT and Indirect Tax team by completing our online enquiry form