VAT refund: EC steps in
This is a very interesting case and would seem to form precedence for EU Member States and taxpayers in a similar situation, resulting from a request for a preliminary ruling to the EC from the Supreme Administrative Court, Czech Republic and the Kingdom of Spain also submitted written observations.
Are tax authorities able to defer the refund of the total amount of excess VAT even though only a small part is still the subject of an ongoing tax inspection? The tax authorities and the Commission believe so, arguing that the deduction under Article 179 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax (‘the VAT Directive’) is to be made only from the total amount.
This question is particularly sensitive because the part of the claimed deduction still to be investigated might be connected with a third party’s fraudulent transactions, about which the taxable person possibly should have known. According to the Court’s case-law, this would permit (or require) the tax authorities to refuse the deduction in this regard. But does this also mean that the deduction in respect of other indisputably ‘legitimate’ transactions can be deferred for several years? Theoretically, the inspection of a single transaction to the value of one euro could therefore defer the tax assessment for all other transactions for several years.
It can be stated, as an interim conclusion, that Articles 179, 183 and 273 of the VAT Directive do not include a right for the Member States to limit in time the total amount of excess VAT if only part of it is disputed, while the other part is undisputed.