Since the beginning of 2019, operators of online trading platforms are liable for unpaid VAT duties. Sellers who are registered in Germany had to provide the platforms with the certificate according to §22f of the German VAT Act (UStG.) – the f22 VAT Certificate. However, as of July 1, 2021, the rules have changed. Platforms & operators of marketplaces have to collect some information from the dealer in order to be released from liability. In addition, a VAT identification number is now a prerequisite, which replaces the certificate according to § 22f UStG.
Maximilian GamplLast Updated on 7 July 2021
What is the §22f VAT Certificate?
Since January 1st 2019, operators of online platforms such as Amazon or eBay have been held liable for the payment of VAT in accordance with §22f of the German VAT Act (UStG) for the online traders active there.
Paragraph 1 of the regulation specified that affected marketplace operators must comply with strict recording obligations and demand certain information on sellers:
- Name of the Company
- Tax number
- Vat Number
- Start and end date of the validity period
- Place of departure or dispatch + place of destination
- Date and amount of turnover
The so-called §22f certificate (German VAT Certificate) had to be applied for by the sellers to comply with the new directive and then be forwarded to the marketplace operators.
This ensured that everything is in order in terms of tax law and that the payment of the tax debt does not end up with the operator himself.
Changes since July 2021
However, this regulation has been adjusted since July 1st 2021. Marketplace operators still need the following information from retailers:
- name of the company
- Place of start of transport or dispatch + place of destination
- Time and amount of sales
However, a few other pieces of information are required from retailers:
- Electronic address or website
- Description of the items
- Tax number according to §21 issued by the tax office (if known)
- Merchant’s bank details (if known)
- Order number & transaction number (if known)
- VAT identification number according to §27a issued by the Federal Central Tax Office
While the presentation of the tax number is now optional, the application for a VAT identification number is mandatory. This has replaced Form f22 since July.
Amazon VAT Certificate
The new law is intended above all to secure VAT revenues in e-commerce and avvoid unluwful losses.
In recent years there have been frequent failures and fraud and the state has lost vast amounts of tax revenue. Especially vendors from the Asian region have unfortunately often sold their goods on European platforms without a valid tax number and without paying VAT.
In Germany, the Federal Government hopes that by ensuring valid tax registrations in eCommerce, and by lawfully receiving the VAT, it will be possible to compensate for losses in the three-digit million range previously caused by this.
Since the operators of the online platforms are now held liable for tax losses, sellers in Germany were supposed to prove with this German tax certificate that they 1. are registered in Germany, 2. that they pay taxes properly and 3. can thus ensure that the operators themselves are not held liable in the end.
With the change in the law, the sales tax loss has been reduced and tax fraud has been avoided across the board.
Who had to provide this tax proof?
All traders who sell on platforms such as Amazon, eBay, etsy, etc. (and have a VAT number in Germany) had to submit the German tax certificate, the so-called Form f22, to the respective operators in order to continue to sell.
Since July 2021, this has been replaced by the notification of the VAT identification number that traders receive from the Federal Central Tax Office in accordance with Section 27a.
It is therefore necessary to prove that a tax registration exists and, above all, that the sales tax is properly paid.
However, those who sell their goods via their own online shop are not affected by the new changes.
What do I have to consider as a seller?
Until now, the 22f certificate had to be applied for. If that did not happen or too late, then in the worst case the dealer could be permanently excluded from the marketplace.
The exact designation of the f22 certificate was: Certificate of registration as a taxpayer (entrepreneur) within the meaning of Section 22f (1) sentence 2 UStG and this must be applied for and forwarded to the respective marketplace operator.
Since July 2021, a VAT identification number has to be applied for instead. Entrepreneurs within the meaning of § 2 UStG and legal persons who are not entrepreneurs or who do not acquire the items for their company are eligible to apply if they need the VAT ID number for intra-community acquisitions.
Can I still get the 22f certificate?
First of all, it is important to mention that you did not automatically receive the 22f certificate as an online retailer in Germany. The certificate first had to be applied for at the responsible tax office, approved and then forwarded to the marketplace operator. An application is still possible after July 2021, but in most cases it is no longer necessary. Instead, online retailers now only need a VAT identification number. You will not receive this automatically either. Instead, the identification number is to be requested from the Federal Central Tax Office.
Submit an application for the VAT ID
In principle, of course, every online retailer was entitled to the issue of the 22f certificate, which is now replaced by the VAT identification number. However, the application is mandatory. The application form for the 22f certificate was called USt 1 TJ and had to be completed and submitted to the tax office by post or email.
The VAT identification number can instead be requested directly from the responsible tax office when setting up a company. All you have to do is place a corresponding cross in the form. In addition, the VAT ID number can be requested online from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. online on the website or by post to the Federal Central Tax Office.
When applying online, the following data must be entered:
- Local tax office
- tax number
- Legal form of the company
- In the case of sole proprietorships, the surname, first name and date of birth of the taxable business owners
- for all other legal forms the name and address of the company
When applying for the 22f certificate, each account name and each seller ID had to be specified for each marketplace ever used.
Your German tax advisor (or the hellotax team) will still help you with the application.
Receiving a VAT Identification Number
The VAT identification number is similar to the 22f certificate. It will only be sent to the entrepreneur by post to the address given. With the appropriate power of attorney, however, it can also be sent to a representative or tax advisor.
This number, just like the certificate used to be, must then be presented to the operators of the respective online platforms to ensure that everything goes well and that the operator does not have to worry about non-payment of sales tax. Potential tax fraud can often be prevented in advance.
Companies based outside of Germany must orientate themselves on the regulations of the VAT Competence Ordinance with regard to the responsibilities.
Amazon and the 22f certificate or VAT ID
Some Amazon retailers still remember the announcement of the change in law in December 2018, which urged retailers to upload their certficates in the profile.
As soon as you received your certificate, you had to upload it to your Amazon account. The same applies to the sales tax identification number.
To do this, go to: Settings -> Information about the seller account -> VAT ID no.
22f certificate and VAT ID on eBay
Of course, eBay is also affected by the change in liability and stated that eBay dealers would also have to submit the certificate according to § 22f UStG. As with the other marketplaces, failure to present it led to the account being blocked.
Need more Info?
On the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance you will find further information and the detailed law on avoiding sales tax losses when trading goods on the Internet and on changing other tax regulations.
All sellers who sell on online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay and are or should be registered for tax purposes in Germany and had to ensure that they send the operators of the marketplace the certificate in accordance with §22f UStG in time.
Instead, it is now necessary to apply for the VAT identification number and notify the operators of marketplaces.
So you can not only avoid the worst scenario, the exclusion from trading, but you are protected and do not have to deal with it anymore. After all, as an online retailer, when it comes to taxes, you often have enough to do.
At first glance, the process may be a bit confusing, but generally there are only 3 steps that need to be taken into account:
- Apply for a VAT identification number,
- Receive VAT ID,
- Submit or upload your number.
Overall, the use of the VAT identification number following the 22f certificate is the logical consequence of the change in liability from 01/01/2019 and, understandably, operators of online marketplaces want to protect themselves and not atone for the misconduct of some retailers.
The 22f form only had to be submitted by companies domiciled in Germany or companies registered for tax purposes in Germany. The same applies to the VAT identification number. This must and can only be applied for by companies registered for tax purposes in Germany. Entrepreneurs based abroad must first report to the responsible tax office for VAT registration.
Such a tax number in the Federal Republic of Germany is mandatory for all traders operating in the EU. Small business owners who are exempt from VAT must also apply for a VAT identification number.
If the VAT identification number is applied for when setting up a company, it usually takes about 2 months before the entrepreneur receives it. If the number is requested at a later date, it can be expected to be received after a few working days.
You have to prove to the operator of the marketplace that you are registered for VAT in Germany. Sometimes it is enough to show Amazon, for example, that you have already taken care of it and are still waiting for feedback in order to reactivate your account.
As the tax statement requirement was introduced in 2019, there were two deadlines for submitting the F22 form that year. Non-EU companies had to submit the certificate to operators of online marketplaces by March 1st, 2019 and EU companies by October 1st, 2019. Therefore, all online retailers should already have submitted a 22f form. From July 1st, 2021, the VAT identification number must be submitted.