Customs, E-Commerce, Newsroom, VAT | 29. March 2023

German retailers expect €2.2bn Easter sales

German retailers anticipate €2.2bn Easter sales; Alibaba announces split into six groups; Zalando drops smaller brands; Schufa's score potentially in breach of EU law; Portugal intends to abolish VAT on foodstuffs; Italian banks discuss VAT in the Digital Age; Poland to implement mandatory B2B e-invoicing by 2024; Belgian authorities bust smuggling ring for customs fraud by

The German Retail Association (HDE) forecasts 2.2 billion euros in sales in the German retail sector for this year’s Easter business. According to an HDE survey, over 40 per cent of respondents plan to spend money on Easter. Food, especially Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, is trendy, followed by flowers, toys and decorative items. On average, consumers spend EUR 40 per person on Easter purchases.

Retailers hope for important sales impulses from the Easter business, especially in the current economic situation with high inflation and uncertainties due to the war in Ukraine. Easter is the second-largest holiday-related occasion for consumption in Germany after Christmas.

Alibaba will split into six individual groups

© Alibaba campus

The Chinese internet giant Alibaba is facing a major restructuring and plans to split the company into six individual groups. This includes, among other things, online commerce and the cloud business. Bloomberg reported that the nascent companies would explore options for initial public offerings or other forms of raising capital.

Zalando drops smaller brands

Berlin-based fashion retailer Zalando has removed several smaller brands from its global range as part of a change in strategy, reports Both the wholesale business and the marketplace are affected. Sales partners were informed by email that these brands no longer fit the assortment strategy and will be removed from the platform as of 30 June. Auden Cavill and Jimmy Sanders are two affected brands, but Zalando confirmed that more brands are affected. The exact number was not mentioned.

Schufa’s score could violate EU law

SCHUFA Zentrale in Wiesbaden Schierstein

According to an expert at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the Schufa credit score could violate European law, reports The ECJ Advocate General Priit Pikamäe also demands that Schufa may not store data from public directories such as insolvency court registers for longer than the public directory itself. A final ruling is expected in a few months. The Advocate General sees the automated creation of the score value as a prohibited automatic decision, even if third parties, such as banks, make the final decision on creditworthiness. In the second case, the ECJ Advocate General criticises Schufa for storing residual debt discharge information after insolvency longer than insolvency courts, which is illegal.

Portugal plans to abolish VAT on foodstuffs

Mercado de Olhao © Pexels

The Portuguese government intends to temporarily abolish VAT on 44 basic foodstuffs to curb the high inflation of 8.2%, reports Der Spiegel. The package of measures, which will initially apply for six months, also includes financial support for farmers and livestock farmers and will cost the state about 600 million euros. Foodstuffs affected include bread, pasta, rice, milk, eggs, and meat. The most recent food inflation in Portugal was 20.1%. Prime Minister António Costa attributes the inflation mainly to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. He warns that prices could continue to rise despite the package of measures. The package still has to be approved by parliament, where the government has a majority.

Italian banks’ views on VAT in the Digital Age

The Italian Banking Association (ABI) welcomes the European Commission’s efforts to review the adequacy of the current VAT rules in the EU as the economy goes digital. However, the ABI expresses concerns that introducing non-harmonised digital reporting requirements and e-invoices fragment the single market. The ABI calls for a harmonised approach to implementation and minimising the burden on businesses.

The ABI points out the following problems:

  • Different definitions of “platforms” in the Member States lead to double taxation or non-taxation.
  • Extending the VAT payment rule in the customer’s country is not a simplification.
  • The OSS only simplifies to a limited extent, as it does not remedy the problems in point 2.
  • Financial and insurance services should remain exempt from VAT rules for e-services.
  • An official EU interpretation of the role of payment circuits and VAT treatment is needed.
  • The experience of Member States, especially Italy, in introducing mandatory e-invoicing should be considered.

Poland to make B2B e-invoicing mandatory from 2024

From 1 July 2024, using the KSeF platform (Krajowy System e-Faktur) for electronic invoices in the B2B sector will become mandatory in Poland, reports This will affect all Polish companies. The system is intended to facilitate invoicing, support legal obligations and provide more transparency. The introduction will occur in several phases, with mandatory use from July 2024 for all businesses.

Customs fraud: smuggling ring busted in Belgium

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has uncovered a customs fraud ring at Liège airport that allegedly evaded taxes of at least 303 million euros. Chinese exporters allegedly set up a complex scheme to avoid VAT payments. The charges include document forgery, customs and VAT fraud, money laundering, and participation in a criminal organisation.

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