On 30 September 2020, the European Commission published Explanatory Notes on the new VAT e-commerce rules that apply from 1 July 2021, which change how VAT applies to imports and distance sales of goods in the EU. These extensive Explanatory Notes explain and clarify the upcoming VAT rules and provide practical guidance for electronic interfaces (e.g. marketplaces or platforms), suppliers and logistic service providers involved in e-commerce.
Due to COVID-19, the implementation of the VAT e-commerce rules was postponed by six months from 1 January 2021 to 1 July 2021; however, the European Commission recently indicated that further postponement will not occur. Businesses must now urgently prepare for the new rules. The Explanatory Notes offer some useful guidance for this exercise. Although they are not legally binding, it is our experience that all EU member states adhere to the views set out in such notes. After all, representatives of all EU member states were involved in drafting them.