Case: VAT relief permitted where business was unwittingly connected to a fraud

European Court of Justice (Sixth Chamber),

J-C Bonichot (Rapporteur), President of the First Chamber acting as President of the Sixth Chamber, E Regan, and C G Fernlund Judges

Judgement delivered 29 November 2018

Value added tax — Taxation of professional football player agencies – Payment by instalments and subject to a condition – Chargeable event, chargeability and collection of the tax

Finanzant Goslar v Baumgarten sports & more GmbH [2018] BVC 50

Summary

This case concerned the time of supply of the service of a German football agent. The agent placed players with a club and, if the player signed a contract and was licenced by the German Football League, the agent received a commission. Commission was payable to the agent every sixth months for as long as the player remained under contract.

The German tax office determined that VAT due on the entire expected commission was due on the date that the player signed the contract (most contracts were for a period of two years). The tax office’s reasoning was that this was the date the service was supplied and, if more or less commission was paid than anticipated, the VAT amount due could be corrected subsequently.

The agent contended that VAT was due on the date that the payments were made, because the commission payments were uncertain at the time the footballer signed the contract (because it was not known how long the footballer would remain under contract).

The ECJ concluded that, because the commission payments were conditional (on the player remaining contracted to the club and holding a valid licence) that the service was supplied at the end of each period to which the commission related, i.e if commission was payable in respect of a six month contract the agency service was supplied at the end of this six month period.

Comment

In an extremely brief judgment the ECJ reached the expected conclusion on this issue. The court was careful in its judgment to specify that its decision applies to the specific facts of the case, i.e to the supply of ‘agency services for professional football players by an agent’.

For commentary on the time of supply rules see Indirect Tax Reporter at ¶11-700.

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