The VAT House is a respected and trusted EU VAT specialist based in Belgium. It is internationally known and works for large multinational companies, smaller companies that are expanding their businesses on a global scale, as well as accounting firms. Frank Borger, Partner and lecturer on VAT at several major institutions, tells us about The VAT House’s beginnings, principal services and priorities towards their clients.
What is the history behind The VAT House?
Established in 1997, The VAT House has a rich history of advising and supporting large companies and SME’s across Belgium and other European countries. We also assist accounting firms with VAT questions of their clients, large non-profit organisations, and government bodies.
It’s a tough task for businesses to remain up-to-date with domestic VAT laws, European VAT directives and jurisprudence, and the domestic VAT laws in other countries. Managing VAT issues and bringing businesses into line with all the different VAT obligations requires a high level of experience and knowledge.
The VAT House’s mission is to help our clients with this difficult task. It has now 5 partners, which all have a deep knowledge of VAT and an experience of 25-30 years on both national and international level.
What are the principal services the company provides and its priorities towards clients?
We have a wide and comprehensive range of services: advice on VAT, negotiations with national and European VAT authorities, performing VAT audits, supervising the implementation of ERP packages for VAT, e.g. helping to determine VAT codes, organising internal VAT training courses for companies and organisations. We are experienced in almost every business sector.
Additionally, we can assist our clients in VAT compliance matters (e.g. VAT registration in Belgium and/or other countries, filing VAT returns in Belgium and/or other countries, filing Intrastat returns, filing VAT refund applications).
Our daily goal is providing our clients with practical solutions at an outstanding price/quality level.
Have there been any recent updates or changes to VAT rules in Belgium and the EU?
VAT rules are constantly changing. An important trigger is the so-called VAT gap, which is the overall difference between the expected VAT revenue and the amount actually collected. The VAT Gap measures the effectiveness of VAT enforcement and compliance measures in each EU Member State. It estimates revenue loss due to fraud and evasion, tax avoidance, bankruptcies, financial insolvencies as well as miscalculations. For the EU28 the VAT gap is 12.8 % and amounts €152 billion, of which cross-border fraud is estimated on €50 billion. These figures are a strong motivator for governments to take policy measures to improve VAT compliance and enforcement. The European Commission has recently come up with proposals for a far-reaching reform of the EU VAT system. The proposed VAT reform would also make the system more modern, robust and simpler to use for companies and businesses alike.
In the meantime, it is expected that every EU Member State will take internal action to reduce the VAT gap. Businesses must be aware of that and keep an eye on their VAT position.
What are the key issues that your clients face in relation to managing VAT?
One of the main hurdles is definitely the complexity of VAT. As a consumption, tax VAT sits on the skin of the economy. As we know, commercial transactions have become more and more international and complex due to globalisation. VAT rules are moreover not necessary adapted at the same speed as economic life evolves. In that context our clients are happy that they can rely on our knowledge and can trust on our assistance.
What are your recommendations for effective management of VAT?
Always keep ahead of problems. In our practice, clients often call for help when transactions occur. In some cases, it is easy to apply the correct VAT solution. But in some cases, it isn’t and it disturbs the commercial relation between trade partners and the tax position of the company can be influenced.
What upcoming VAT changes should companies operating in Belgium and the EU be aware of?
One should keep up-to-date with the progression of Brexit talks, as well as the major VAT reform that has been proposed by the European Commission.