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8 May 20242 minute read

Vouchers can be viewed as Single Purpose Vouchers even when they are subject to transfers between taxable persons

European Union

Vouchers always qualify as Single Purpose Vouchers as long as they can be redeemed against supplies of good or services the VAT treatment of which is known at the time the voucher is issued.

A German taxpayer marketed online vouchers that enabled its purchasers to download digital content from online shops where they held a user account.

Even though the vouchers could only be used in the jurisdiction in which the purchaser had an account, therefore the VAT treatment of the underlying supply was known at the time the voucher was issued, the taxpayer treated them as Multi Purpose Vouchers.

The German tax authorities challenged the taxpayer’s position even though the latter had argued that some users may have circumvented the relevant conditions so as to be able to use the vouchers outside their actual country of residence to obtain a financial advantage, hence it could not be entirely certain where the voucher would eventually be used.

The question was referred to the CJEU and the court held that vouchers such as described above should be viewed as Single Purpose Vouchers nonetheless.

The Court specified on the other hand that, in a case of Multi Purpose Vouchers (the underlying supply of which becoming subject to VAT only upon redemption), their distribution (normally outside the scope of VAT) may be subject to VAT in so far as it constitutes a supply of service independent from the underlying supply to which they give right.


Key takeaway

The treatment of vouchers has always been and is still a complex area of VAT law. The present case is again an illustration that despite the rules provided in the VAT Directive, some uncertainties remain. A careful analysis of the VAT treatment applicable is always recommended.