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Standard VAT rate: 19% (Jan 2007)

Reduced VAT rates: 7% foodstuffs, books, medical, passenger transport, newspapers, admission to cultural and entertainment events, hotels

German increase in reduced 7% VAT rate reports

Reports are emerging of plans to harmonise the German reduced VAT rate of 7% to the standard German rate of 19%.

At present, the German VAT regime categorises a number of supplies of goods at the lower, reduced VAT rates of 7%. This includes hotel accommodation, restaurants, books and public transport. Whilst the EU sets the overarching VAT compliance rules for the member state, but countries are still able to set the VAT rates.

The reports indicate plans after the September 2013 German elections to bring in a range of spending cuts and tax rises to bring the GDP to debt ration down from over 80% to the key Euro currency target rate of below 60%. The reports have been denied by the Finance Ministry.

Should you register for German VAT?

There are a number of trading situations which typically require a foreign trader to register with the German tax authorities.  These follow the broad EU VAT rules, and  include:

  • Importing goods into Germany from another country, either from within the EU or from outside the EU
  • Moving goods between Germany and other EU member states (intra-community supplies), either as sales (dispatches) or purchases (arrivals)
  • Buying and selling goods in Germany
  • Selling goods over the internet to German consumers, subject to the German distance selling VAT regisration threshold
  • Goods held in consignment stock
  • Holding live exhibitions, events or training in Germany
  • If a company is otherwise a non-VAT trader, but is receiving services in Germany under the reverse charge rule
  • The self supply of goods
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