If, as a tax consultant or online trader, you had familiarised yourself with the so-called mail order delivery and the associated delivery thresholds in recent years, a new logic will take effect from 1 July 2021.

The German Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt) recently announced in a press release that, after some delays, the One Stop Shop and the associated new VAT rules will now take effect on 1 July 2021 for companies based in Germany.

In this article we look at the journey from mail order regulation to the very recent developments in the One Stop Shop.

Mail order regulation, delivery thresholds and soon the One Stop Shop

The so-called mail order scheme is the current VAT system for cross-border supplies to final consumers within the European Union (EU) and Northern Ireland.

The mail order regulation has existed since 1993 and is regulated for Germany in § 3c UStG.

Accordingly, any supply to final consumers (except for used goods) which begins in one EU state and ends in another EU state is taxable where the supply ends.

The mail order regulation clarifies the so-called country of destination principle which applies within the EU.
It is obvious why such a basic principle is indispensable for a community like the EU.
If the Value Added Tax for cross-border deliveries were to be charged in the country of origin, export-strong states such as Germany would have a double advantage: through the exports themselves and through the increased volume of Value Added Tax.

As a rule, however, it is costly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to pay the Value Added Tax in other EU states.

Anyone who becomes liable for VAT in another EU country must contact the tax office responsible there and have themselves registered for tax purposes. Depending on the country, this process takes between four and twelve weeks.
Depending on the national rules, VAT returns must then be submitted either monthly or quarterly. Forms and also communication with the tax authorities almost always have to be in the national language.
This ultimately represents a barrier to trade in the EU that should not actually exist in a single market.

For this reason, the legislator has inserted the so-called delivery thresholds into the mail order regulation.

Accordingly, companies are free to continue to pay their Value Added Tax in the country of origin if the respective national supply thresholds are not met, thus avoiding the high administrative costs of cross-border VAT declarations.

Within the framework of the mail order regulation, delivery thresholds are defined up to which domestic taxation can take place.

This will change fundamentally on 1.7.2021.

Bye-bye mail order regulation: Abolition of national delivery thresholds and more consistent destination principle

As of 1.7.2021, all national delivery thresholds will cease to apply. The previously known mail order sales will become the so-called distance sales.

Definition of distance sales: From 1.7.2021, distance sales are understood to be deliveries to end consumers that begin in any EU state and end in any other EU state.

This reform is intended to make our VAT law, which is still largely stuck in 1993 when mail order was still largely based on catalogues and orders by post, compatible with our increasingly digital age.

As of 1.7.2021, the national delivery thresholds will be abolished.

Now one can rightly ask what the big deal is about this reform. In the end, almost all cross-border supplies must always be taxed in the country of destination from 1 July 2021.

Almost all deliveries: Behind the Fast is a small EU-wide supply threshold of €10,000 (net).
Accordingly, from 1 July 2021, companies that sell goods and digital services with a total value of less than 10,000 euros per calendar year to end consumers in other EU states may continue to pay tax on these supplies in the country of origin.
The 10,000 euros (net) thus applies to all EU states together.

With this new regulation, the destination principle is now implemented much more consistently.

The simplification is in the new registration procedure. Local registrations in other EU countries will no longer be required for distance sales from 1 July 2021. The declarations will then be made in the country of domicile via the One Stop Shop.

One Stop Shop replaces mail order scheme: declarations and clearing in the Member State of establishment

From 1.7.2021, taxable distance sales in the EU abroad can be reported in the country of residence via the One Stop Shop.

The reports are made on a quarterly basis and the Value Added Tax is transferred to the BZSt, from where it is cleared to the individual EU states.

If you follow our blog, you know that for a long time it didn 't look like the One Stop Shop and its accompanying new regulations were coming.

Just recently, for example, the planned launch was postponed from 1.1. to 1.7.2021 - officially because of Covid19. However, it is known that many EU states had already announced before the pandemic that they have major problems with the technical implementation of the One Stop Shop.

In this respect, until recently it was still questionable whether even the 1.7.2021 is realistic as a start. The indications that the One Stop Shop is now slowly taking shape are now becoming stronger.

Can we then finally forget the often tiresome delivery thresholds from July 2021?

Not quite!

Mail order regulation: why is it important to keep an eye on delivery thresholds even after 1.7.2021?

... at least in the rearview mirror you have to look at delivery thresholds for a while.

Why?

Tax audits and Value Added Tax special audits usually look at past periods, so that unobserved national supply thresholds can still lead to considerable financial risks in the years to come, as the following example shows.

Online traders are increasingly the focus of audits by the tax authorities
Supply thresholds will continue to be the subject of audits in the coming years.

Conclusion

Soon we will say goodbye to the mail order regulation. Distance selling and the One Stop Shop will be the dominant topics for online retailers in the coming years.

Online merchants who exclusively sell from their own country will therefore benefit from this reform. However, merchants who rely on cross-border fulfilment systems, such as Amazon Pan EU, Amazon CEE, Zalando Fulfillments, ..., are likely to face additional challenges, as the One Stop Shop cannot report the associated transactions in their entirety.

The One Stop Shop will be a simplification - but not for the entire online trade

At least in the context of company audits and Value Added Tax special audits, it is worthwhile not to forget too quickly what we have learned about the mail order regulation in the coming months and years.

Taxdoo is the platform for automated and secure compliance processes - including One Stop Shop interface

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... By July 1, 2021, there will also be a One Stop Shop interface so you can easily identify and report your remote sales.

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