Most European Union countries have slowly switched over to VAT or value added tax on goods and services, and in order to comply with a common code all eu countries that follow vat have to follow vat eu directives. These directives are amended regularly in a bid to further fine tune the system so as to avoid tax leaks and ensure better co-operation among member countries in collecting and refunding vat.
The European Union through its website ec.europa.eu tries to educate member countries and vat registered traders in various countries on some of the rules and regulations that apply on current and future vat rates and refunds. Several countries in Europe including the UK, Sweden, Poland, Greece, Germany, Italy, etc have slowly shifted to the system of vat tax in a bid to raise tax revenues and also to plug tax holes that were previously draining precious resources. Each vat enabled country has its own interpretation of european vat or europa vat rules that might vary slightly but are almost similar in principle.
For example, in the UK a trader that has crossed over the vat threshold limit will need to turn into a vat registered trader before issuing any vat invoice. The subsequent vat collected by the trader is then adjusted against any vat paid and the difference is paid to HM Revenue and Customs or hmrc vat department that looks after all issues connected to customs duties, excise and vat in the UK. Similarly, a trader in Poland would need to issue a faktura invoice, which essence is a vat invoice but in Polish language, and pay vat to the relevant vat department in that country.
Since each country has adopted vat in a slightly different manner by applying varying vat rates to similar products, traders all across Europe usually need to hire a vat agent or vat consultant to help file vat returns regularly. These agents need to be experts in interpreting vat eu rules and vat rules applicable in their own country. For example, a UK trader with vat registration needs to appoint a vat agent that is conversant with uk vat rules. If that trader imports goods from other vat european countries that have already charged vat on the same then the vat agent of that trader should be able to file for vat refund so as to reclaim vat back. This process is quite lengthy but can help European traders recover vat amounts previously paid, which in turn can lower their costs and improve their cash flow.
The europa website tries to educate all vat enabled eu countries to follow a common system of vat so as to decrease friction among member countries due to varying vat rates on similar goods or services. Several European countries too have come up with their own amendments as they try to adapt completely to eu vat directives for better vat compliance in their own country and across borders too.
The move of shifting over to vat has benefited various European countries as they have witnessed higher revenue collections over the years. However, in a bid to ensure better co-operation between member countries, vat eu directives and amendments issued by the European Commission have made constant efforts to improve the system of collecting and refunding vat.