The German Federal Tax Court (BFH) issued a judgment in a case concerning the input value added tax (VAT) deduction when the invoice did not provide specific details about the time of the supply.

According to German VAT law, a proper invoice must contain details on the time of the supply of goods or other services. In this respect, an invoice that lists the calendar month is deemed to be sufficient (see § 31 (4) German VAT operating regulation (UStDV)).

According to the BFH in its judgment in case V R 18/17 (1 March 2018), information about the month at the time of supply can be inferred from the date of issuance of the invoice, if the circumstances of the transaction allow one to assume that the supply was effected in the month when the invoice was issued. The BFH followed this approach, and held that the tax authorities cannot limit themselves to merely examining the invoice but must also take into consideration additional information provided by the taxpayer. This approach is further supported by a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Barlis 06,  C-516/14 (15 September 2016).

Other VAT developments

Recent VAT developments that may affect businesses in Germany include the following items:

  • Proposal on VAT reform in the EU, effective 1 July 2022 (European Commission, press release of 25 May 2018, IP/18/3834)
  • Proposal for combatting VAT fraud in Germany, effective 1 January 2019 (Baden-Württemberg State Ministry Newsletter of 25 May 2018)
  • Input tax deduction and correction in the case of non-performance of supply (CJEU, ruling of 31 May 2018 – joint cases C-660/16 ‒ Kollroß and C-661/16 ‒ Wirtl)
  • Reverse charge procedure – handling of advance payment (BMF, guidance of 18 May 2018 ‒ III C 3 ‒ S 7279/11/10002-10)
  • Place of receipt of supply ‒ condition for a fixed establishment (Lower Tax Court of Berlin-Brandenburg, ruling of 6 July 2017, 5 K 5270/15; BFH ref. no. XI R 1/18)