EU ECJ VAT invoice requirements

Tue 20th Sep 2016

The European Court of Justice has ruled that VAT invoices need only meet the substantive requirements of the VAT Directive for entitlement to VAT recovery.

The case, Barlis 06 (C-516/14), concerned an invoice for legal services to a Portuguese hotel chain. The description of the services was vague, and the dates of ongoing consulting unclear. This was in breach of Articles 226(6) and 226(7) of the EU VAT Directive. The hotelier was able to provided detailed back-up documentation, which indicated that the VAT on the services were entitled to VAT deduction.

The ECJ considered that the principle purpose of the invoice is to help the tax authorities to monitor and audit VAT payments. The court found the formal requirements of an EU VAT invoice had not been met, but the substantive requirements were in place. The invoice could therefore be used for a VAT deduction.