From a VAT perspective, package deals always trigger questions as to whether the supply should be regarded as one single supply or as multiple supplies for VAT purposes. When these package deals are regarded as one single supply for VAT purposes, in principle they are taxable at one single VAT rate. The Dutch Supreme Court recently referred a prejudicial question to the European Court of Justice ("ECJ") as to whether a package deal that is considered one single supply could be subject to multiple VAT rates.
The outcome of the case can have a substantial impact on the VAT treatment and VAT compliance consequences, as well as the profit margins, of package deals supplied within the EU.
In the underlying case a football stadium, in addition to operating the venue as a football stadium, hosted guided tours of the stadium and its facilities. A single visitor ticket includes the cost of a guided tour of the venue and unguided entry to the in-house museum of the football club. Entry to the museum is taxed at the low VAT rate of 6% in the Netherlands, whilst the stadium tour is taxed at the general VAT rate of 21%.
The tour, as such, was regarded as one single supply for VAT purposes. The underlying question, however, is whether this single service should be partially or fully taxed at either the reduced or general VAT rate. In that regard, the Dutch Supreme Court has referred the case to the ECJ to settle the further question posed by the taxpayers regarding whether the consideration for a single supply may be split, in order to apply two different VAT rates (on a proportional basis).
As a result of business and/or technical developments (e.g. the Internet of Things), increasing numbers of "products" can be regarded as so-called package deals from a VAT perspective. If such a package deal can be regarded as a single supply for VAT purposes, generally the package deal will be taxed at a single VAT rate. The latter is particularly interesting in case a package deal can be taxed at a low VAT rate. Especially if the package deal is to be sold to customers who cannot (fully) deduct the input VAT (e.g. private individuals, healthcare institutions and financial institutions). For such customers a low VAT rate triggers less non-recoverable VAT and could therefore make for a more competitive offering.
The expected ruling of the ECJ in the underlying case may open the possibility for multiple VAT rates being applicable to one single supply. As a result, companies could end up being obliged to split the consideration for a single package deal between a part which is taxed at the general VAT rate and a part which is taxed at the reduced VAT rate, or which is, perhaps, even exempt from VAT.
Besides an additional VAT compliance burden (e.g. adjusting financial systems, invoicing, etc.), and possible issues on valuation, such a split can trigger a substantial impact on the margin/ competitiveness of the underlying offering. Especially on package deals for which pricing has been set and an increase of VAT cannot be recharged to the customer.
Given the VAT and commercial implications of the above outcome, we strongly recommend reviewing the specifics of your current package deal offerings. This will enable you to identify the package deals that could be affected by the outcome of this case, and subsequently obtain a (high level) insight into the possible VAT saving opportunities and possible risks, as well as the commercial impact this case may have.
If desired, we are of course happy to provide you with or discuss further the background and possible implications of the underlying case. In the meantime, we will keep you informed of any developments in this matter.