Effective 2010, the procedure for obtaining a refund of foreign EU VAT will be drastically simplified. Prior to 2010, a company had to register in all the EU member states where it incurred input VAT in order to obtain a refund. In some instances, refund requests had to be filed in the local language. Many companies opted against seeking a refund because the procedure was too complicated and burdensome.
As of 2010, a request for a refund is to be filed through a website administered by the local tax administration. Refund requests for all EU member states can now be made through such website. The request is then passed on to the appropriate tax administration, which will decide on the request. Any further communications regarding a request will remain with the foreign tax administration.
This new procedure also applies to refund requests for input VAT charged in 2009. In fact, the tax administrations will no longer accept written VAT refund requests, only digital requests. One of the positive effects of this decision is that it is now also worthwhile to file a request for the refund of input VAT charged in 2009.
The period that you have to file a request for the VAT refund is limited. For this reason, some websites may deny requests that are barred. However, the Dutch and Belgian tax administrations have a policy of granting refunds ex officio in the event that the refunds are filed too late. At the moment, it is still not clear how such a request is to be filed with the Dutch or Belgian tax administration if the website does not accept such requests.