Selling e-services? 12 tips on how to avoid VAT MESS

Selling e-services? 12 tips on how to avoid VAT MESS

The new VAT MOSS regime: for many businesses the mere mention of this clunky acronym brings them out in a cold sweat. Many have dubbed it 'VAT MESS' for the reasons set out in our background post yesterday.

A considerable amount of micro-businesses in particular have fallen within the scope of VAT for the very first time.

In essence, as from 1 January 2015, businesses supplying digital services have been obliged to account for VAT in the country where the customer is located and not where the business is based. This means that the various VAT rates of the EU’s 28 member states now need to be applied as opposed to the simple one rate that was previously applied.

So what should you, as a lawyer, be thinking about when advising a client on this tricky area?

Here are 12 tips to ensure compliance and avoid the pitfalls:

HMRC guidance

Always check the latest guidance from HM Revenue & Customs, in particular:

European Commission guidance

Check the latest guidance from the European Commission although, that said, be very careful when using these resources. Some of them are not up-to-date and therefore are incorrect.

The 'FAQ' page below, for example, refers to the standard UK rate of VAT of '17.5%' despite the site stating that it was last updated on '09/12/2014'. (As I'm sure most Britons are aware, the standard UK rate of VAT has been 20% since 4 January 2011):

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