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2 May 2019

eBay Requires Certificate According to German Tax Law §22f UStG – Otherwise You Risk Deactivation of Your Account

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.

1. What Does §22f UStG Mean and Why Do I Have to Submit a VAT certificate to Marketplaces Such as eBay, Amazon, etc.?

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.

2. Who Profits From This Law Change and the VAT certificate §22f UStG?

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.

3. Which Sellers Have to Submit the VAT certificate §22f UStG?

If at least ONE of the following apply to you as a seller, you’ll have to submit the certificate:

  • Sellers located in Germany.
  • Sellers who store their merchandise in Germany.
  • Sellers, who sell to private individuals in Germany and store this merchandise outside of the European Union (EU) and mail it from there. This is valid with a minimum of a total revenue of 100.000 EUR per year across all sales channels.

4. For Which Marketplace Platforms Do You Have to Submit a VAT certificate §22f UStG?

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.

5. What Will Sellers Have to Do to Not Get Banned by eBay & Co.?

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).

6. Until When Do You Have to Submit the VAT Certificate 22f UStG to the Online Marketplaces?

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.

On to More Interesting Things: Sell Your Products to eBay, Amazon & Co. From Your Own Webshop More Easily – With the magnalister Plugin

eBay Requires Certificate According to German Tax Law §22f UStG
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.

The magnalister plugin simplifies selling on online marketplaces and automates many processes. You can manage all connected marketplaces directly from your webshop* and profit from the following core features:

  • Product upload: upload articles from your webshop to marketplaces
  • Price synchronization: submit prices automatically or individually (per marketplace)
  • Synchronize inventory: always keep your shop and marketplace inventories uptodate
  • Automatic order import: import and manage marketplace orders
  • Attribute Matching: match product variants and attributes with those of the marketplaces*
  • Order status synchronization: submit order statuses such as “sent” or “canceled” to marketplaces
  • Plugin individualization: Customize the plugin via hook points

Learn more about the advantages of the magnalister plugin and get your 30 day trial for free.

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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.

*scope of features depends on webshop system as well as marketplace

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