ECJ’s resolution, of October 8th, 2014. Traum EOOD. Intracommunity transactions and the obligation of the seller to prove the authenticity of the purchaser’s signature
Once again the Court rules on the scope of the obligations of the seller, who makes an intra-Community supply of goods, to demonstrate or to ensure that the purchaser is actually an entrepreneur or professional and that all the requirements are met in order to declare VAT exempt such delivery.
This case refers to an intra-Community sale of goods made by a Bulgarian company to a Greek entrepreneur, leaving it VAT exempt under article 138.1 of the EU VAT Directive. The Bulgarian Tax Administration conducted adequate audit of the deductibility for the Bulgarian company, checking through the VIES database that the Greek VAT number was valid, and granting at such moment the VAT refund. In addition, the seller was in possession of the documentary evidence of the transport and delivery of the goods to Greece (invoices with the Greek VAT number, delivery note signed, letters of international postage, etc).
However, a few years later, on the occasion of a new audit, the Bulgarian tax administration found that the VAT registration number provided by the Greek client no longer was in the VIES, retrospectively, leading to a complementary VAT settlement to the Bulgarian company, as not leaving exempt the intra-Community supplies, besides considering that the company did not act with due diligence to verify that it did comply with the conditions for the application of the exemption in the sale.
The ECJ considers that the principles of legal certainty and proportionality, in relation to the modes of proof which may be imposed on the seller to prove that the conditions for the exemption are met, must be taken into account. In this regard, the Court considers that these principles are not respected when the national administrative body firstly accepts the VAT deduction and then rejects it in a further audit. Moreover, the Court understands that the seller complied with the documentary requirements provided for by the national legislation. In the same line, the fact that the VIES registration was retroactively denied cannot limit the operator’s right of exemption.
A copy of the judgment C-492/13 is attached.
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