by Dries Torreele
Since the so-called 'VAT package' came into effect in 2010, the general principle is that transactions carried out in a B2B context must take place where the recipient of the service is established. This means that the responsibility for paying the VAT lies with the recipient of the service and not with the service provider.
Transportation services and related logistic services such as loading, unloading and packing done for a Belgian taxpayer based in Belgium are therefore subject to Belgian VAT. When they are provided to a customer located in another Member State or outside the EU, such services do not involve Belgian VAT. The place where the service is actually performed plays no role. This means that when a Polish company invoices a Belgian company, even if the invoice is for transport from Poland to Germany, Belgian VAT is payable for this service.
However, there is an exception to this general B2B rule, the so-called 'use & enjoyment' rule. This rule, unlike the general B2B rule, does take into account the actual use of the services in two specific cases.
Very specifically, this exception applies when an internal Belgian transport (from place A in Belgium to place B in Belgium) is carried out and is then invoiced to a company located outside the EU (and therefore not registered for VAT within the EU). In this case, Belgian VAT is payable on this transport service, even though the place of the service is not located in Belgium.
In the second instance, the exception applies when a transport service is carried out entirely outside the EU. When a Belgian transport company invoices a transport from Russia to Turkey, for example, the location of the service is outside the EU. If this service is invoiced to a Belgian company, then no VAT must be charged. If this service is invoiced to an EU company, then it should not be invoiced with a VAT reverse charge.
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