ECJ Case-Law, of July 17th 2014, exemption of imported goods intended to be placed under warehousing arrangements
The case refers to an importation of goods into Italy by a company to be allocated to a tax warehouse for the purposes of VAT. Consequently, no payment of VAT on importation is due until the time the goods leave the suspension regime.
Nevertheless, the entry of the goods into the warehouse did not take place but only a registration was performed. Since it failed to physically deposit the goods, the company made a reverse charge payment of VAT on imports before the tax authorities (not before Customs Office). Subsequently, the Italian Tax Administration issued a settlement corresponding to the import VAT, with a penalty of 30%.
In this sense, in relation to the obligation to introduce the goods physically in the warehouse, the Court held that Article 16, paragraph 1, of the Sixth Directive must be interpreted strictly and establishes two substantive requirements: that the merchandise is not aimed to final consumption and that the amount of VAT due when leaving the regime matches up with the amount of VAT that would be due if the transactions were taxed in the country. Therefore, each Member State may establish formalities deemed necessary for the taxpayer to qualify for the exemption, and the physical introduction of the goods is a formality that is not disproportionate to achieve the goal of VAT and, therefore, not opposed to the European VAT Directive.
However, the Court considers that the Directive precludes the request made by the Italian Tax Administration as regard the import VAT once it has already been paid and deducted by the Company, although belatedly. This goes against the principle of tax neutrality to require a new payment thereof, without the right to deduction.
Attached is a copy of the judgment C-272/13
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ECJ C 272_13 VAT import exemption_obligation of introducing the goods in the warehouse.htm