Topic: Which place of taxation (VAT) applies to participants from other European countries?  (Read 43715 times)

We are organizing a conference in a country that is part of the European Union and wondering which taxation rule applies if a business, NGO or university participant from another EU member state registers for the event.

We were informed by bookkeeping / a client / a knowledgeable third party that if the organization for which the participant is working has an EU-VAT number, the "reverse charge procedure" applies, and no VAT has to be charged from our end. Is that right? Does ConfTool Pro support such tax rules?

Are there specific VAT/GST rules or tax rates for scientific conferences?

Can you please clarify whether participants coming from a non-EU country need to pay VAT?

A German version of this topic is available.

Please note that we cannot act as tax advisors for you, and there might be specific rules in your country or for your special case (although the VAT rules should be the same in all EU countries, as they are provided by the EU council). So it is always advisable to ask a local tax advisor for their expertise. Furthermore, no responsibility is taken for the correctness of the following information.

Our tax advisor told us the following and this was also confirmed by at least a dozen other tax advisors of our clients: According to the COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2006/112/EC, for "scientific, educational … or similar activities" the "place of supply … shall be the place where the services are physically carried out." (Chapter 3, Subsection 4, Article 53; see image 1). Although the general rules indicate that the reverse charge procedure may apply (Chapter 3, Section 2, Article 44), the more specific rule overrides this provision (Lex specialis). That means that the location of taxation is always the location/country where an event takes place and the participant’s country of residence is not relevant. Therefore, VAT applies to all participants and the "Reverse Charge Procedure" is excluded from such services.

For verification, please also consult the website of the European Commission where you can find "Example 35" which explains that "For a conference organized in Stockholm for participants paying a fee to attend, Swedish VAT is charged." (see image 2).
The VAT laws for Germany and Austria also confirm this, please see §3a Abs. 3 Nr. 3a of the German UStG and § 3a Nr. 11 lit. a and Nr. 11a of the Austrian UStG.

These rules also apply to virtual events as long as the execution is not automated for the most part. But in general, virtual scientific conferences do not fall into the category of other services provided electronically.

However, if the organizer of the event is a university, institution, or organization which is subject to VAT exemption and the conference has mainly scientific purpose and most of the fees are used for these purposes (and not for housing or social events), under some circumstances VAT does not need to be charged at all from any participant. Please ask your local tax advisor if this applies to your event.