EU sets forth new rules for the VAT treatment of vouchers

The use of vouchers is constantly increasing on the market, as it makes it easier for consumers to access goods without using cash. With Directive 2016/1065 dated 27 June 2016 the Council of the EU recognised the need to introduce specific norms on the VAT treatment of vouchers throughout the EU and set forth new provisions aimed at regulating their circulation and redemption. The new common norms, which must be implemented in the domestic legislation, do not differ significantly from the standpoint of the Italian Tax Authorities over the years.

Vouchers grant the consumers the right to obtain specific goods or services or to receive a discount or a refund on their purchase. In the current economic scenario, the increasing interest in vouchers can be attributed to their ease of use and redemption and to their allowing companies to increase customer retention and sales volume. VAT Directives 77/388/EEC and 2006/112/EC do not include norms concerning the VAT treatment of transactions involving the use of vouchers. Although over the years the Court of Justice of the EU has set forth interpretative criteria on some tax aspects of vouchers, the lack of a common regulation led to the diffusion in the EU member States of diverging national rules not consistent with the common VAT framework. The lack of specific provisions lead to great uncertainties for companies, particularly with reference to cross-border transactions. In order to regulate the VAT treatment of vouchers, the Council of the EU published on 27 June 2016 Directive EU 2016/1065 thereby harmonising an instrument that had not previously been consistently regulated within the EU.