Due to a change in German law, eBay merchants, selling on the german eBay marketplace, have to submit a certificate according to §22f UStG (German VAT law) no later than 1st October 2019. In case sellers miss this deadline, eBay will close their accounts. Germany’s government hopes the legislative change regarding the VAT certificate in E-commerce will create fairer taxation and better competitive conditions for domestic merchants.
Therefore, you are strongly advised to request the VAT certificate §22f UStG as soon as possible from your responsible tax authority and submit it to eBay. Because many of these certificates will be ordered right around the deadline set by the German Federal Government, waiting times can increase and accounts may become temporarily deactivated.
Never heard of the VAT certificate §22f UStG? We’ve got you covered and will answer your most important questions regarding this law change in this guide.
On 1st January 2019, the German government issued the so-called “Law to prevent high losses in sales taxes in the online trade and to change additional tax regulations.” The law specifies that online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, etc. have to keep comprehensive records and can legally be held responsible when it comes to VAT.
More specifically: In case an eBay seller does not correctly pay his VAT, the marketplace – e.g. eBay – is held responsible. Therefore, eBay as well as others require their merchants to submit the VAT certificate §22f UStG to make sure they’re paying their VAT correctly.
Germany’s VAT law was changed to create a fairer taxation in E-commerce. Recently, especially Asian sellers have been getting noticed because they didn’t pay any VAT to eBay & Co.
§22f UStG now holds marketplace operators accountable. However, the operators avoid this liability risk by requiring their sellers to send in the VAT certificate §22f UStG. Idealistically, this shall lead to fairer competitive conditions because tax evaders will be banned by marketplace operators or made liable to pay VAT in the first place. Thus, price advantages due to falsely applied net prices are a thing of the past.
If at least ONE of the following apply to you as a seller, you’ll have to submit the certificate:
All vendors, who sell their merchandise in Germany on an active online marketplace and fall under the conditions of point 3, have to submit a certificate.
That means, this certificate is not only required for eBay; eBay is just informing its sellers very early. It is to be expected that also Amazon, Rakuten, real.de, Hood.de, Etsy, etc. are going to make their vendors aware of this law change soon if they haven’t already.
Whoever sells his/her merchandise solely through his/her own webshop, will not have to submit the certificate.
Sellers should request the VAT certificate §22f UStG from their responsible tax office as soon as possible. For this, you’ll have to file a “Antrag auf Erteilung einer Bescheinigung über die Erfassung als Steuerpflichtiger (Unternehmer) im Sinne von § 22f Abs. 1 Satz 2 UStG” (an “application for granting a certificate to register as a taxpayer (contractor) according to § 22f Abs. 1 Satz 2 VAT Act”). You can find a template by the Federal Ministry for Finances here.
Once your application has been submitted and reviewed by your tax office, you will receive a “Bescheinigung über die Erfassung als Steuerpflichtiger (Unternehmer) im Sinne von § 22f Abs. 1 Satz 2 UStG” (certificate that you’ve registered as a taxpayer (contractor) according to § 22f Abs. 1 Satz 2 VAT Act”).
You can upload the certificate in your eBay seller’s account. You should inform yourself how other marketplaces handle the submission process of this certificate.
Important: Sellers who aren’t German residents and whose business aren’t registered in Germany will have to ask their tax office about the rules of the VAT jurisdiction ordinance (see UStZustV, Absatz 1).
The German fFderal Government has set a concrete deadline, which eBay also communicates to their merchants: 1st of October 2019. Until then, you not only have to submit the certificate to your seller account, but eBay also must have reviewed it.
eBay made the following statement about the reviewing process:
“As of now, all certificates must be reviewed manually by us, because an electronic solution will only arrive in 2021. Sellers who are submitting their certificate shortly before the deadline ends will run the risk of getting temporarily disabled until we have reviewed their certificate.”
And not only eBay will need time to review the certificate – so will your responsible tax office. Whoever submits his/her application shortly before the effective date, must take longer waiting times into account due to tax authorities.
That means: Sellers can avoid to have their account disabled the faster they submit their application to the tax office and the certificate to eBay and other marketplaces.
1st October 2019 only applies as the effective date for eBay sellers. Other marketplaces may set other deadlines. That’s why we recommend you to inform yourself for every marketplace separately.
You’re running your webshop and want to sell your merchandise on the world’s leading online marketplaces as well? Then you should not only be aware of the VAT certificate §22f UStG. You should also know that creating efficient and time-saving multi-channel distribution from your webshop needs to be well thought-out.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is not legal advice, we simply want to cover legal topics to assist you in your E-commerce journey. For more authoritative legal advice and guidelines, please consult with a specialist lawyer.
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