Comments on the current letter of the Federal Ministry of Finance on intra-Community supplies – Part 3

In this multi-part series of articles, we would like to present how the tax authorities comment on the changes from 01.01.2020 in the context of the so-called “quick fixes”. The principles apply to all deliveries made after 31.12.2019.

We hope you enjoy reading!

BMF letter dated October 9, 2020, III C 3 – S 7140/19/10002

The BMF letter can be found at:

What does use of sales tax identification number mean?

1. background

In the new Section 6a (1) No. 4 UStG, the legislature has legally imposed as a condition for tax exemption that the customer must use a valid VAT registration number issued to him by another Member State vis-à-vis the entrepreneur (the supplier)

The tax authorities now comment in detail on this use in the new section 6a.1 paragraph 19 UStAE.

2. regulation in the administrative instruction

The use presupposes thereafter a positive doing. In this context, the tax authorities refer to the use of a VAT registration number in the performance of other services within the meaning of Section 3a (2) UStG (paragraph 3a.2 (10) UStAE).

As a rule, this requires written use of the VAT registration number when concluding the contract. In addition to the written use of the USt-IdNr. at the conclusion of the contract, the recording in the case of verbal issuance or the use in a basic contract, according to the now made addition, a positive action also exists if the recipient of the service has made the declaration about the entrepreneurial status and the entrepreneurial reference in an objectively comprehensible manner and the service reference has been declared by the recipient of the service in an accurate manner, the performing entrepreneur has fulfilled his reporting obligations according to § 18a UStG and the invoice for the service contains a reference to the USt-IdNr, which was stated in the recapitulative statement pursuant to § 18a (7) UStG.

Caution: however, the supplier cannot control whether the purchaser has declared the acquisition correctly!

3. tax group

A special determination is made by the tax administration in connection with fiscal unions: If the tax administration of another Member State issues only one VAT registration number to a fiscal unity, this must be recognized when used by the fiscal unity in relation to a domestic entrepreneur.

4. What relief is there from the BMF letter?

The application decree now also contains a long-awaited statement on retroactivity. The subsequent use by the customer of a VAT registration number that was valid at the time of the supply has retroactive effect for the purposes of tax exemption (Section 6a.1 (19) sentence 3 UStAE).

Important note:

However, the VAT number must have been valid at the time of delivery. This is then of course again a verification problem. The query at the BZSt ( only confirms a current validity. The querying party does not see a validity period. In this respect, the only advice left in the end is to make and keep the queries and documentation of the VAT ID numbers at the time of the deliveries. Otherwise a subsequent tax liability threatens, which can cost 19%.

Look forward to the next post. It will be on the topic of “Intra-Community transfers”!


The content reproduced is for general information purposes. All contributions are compiled to the best of our knowledge. They are neither intended nor suitable to replace an individual consultation with expert persons, taking into account the specific circumstances of each individual case. No liability can be assumed for their content. Please contact your tax advisor for your individual case.