Critical analysis of the VAT treatment of vouchers since the annual Tax Act 2018

Carina Menhofer, Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften Augsburg (Master thesis)
Junior Management Science 8(1), 2023, 188-218

Vouchers are used in many different ways in numerous sectors and, in addition to the classic target group of end consumers, can now be observed throughout the entire service chain. The issuance of vouchers enables companies to generate liquid funds without providing any service immediately, so they have become very important for the economy. In the past, the VAT treatment of vouchers was characterized by legal uncertainties due to a lack of harmonization. The so-called Voucher Directive was intended to standardize the VAT treatment of vouchers within the EU member states. The aim of this paper is to analyze the implementation of the Voucher Directive into national law with the Annual Tax Act 2018 as well as the corresponding letter of the German Ministry of Finance with regard to its application in practice. In doing so, the scientific literature, case law, legislation and administrative regulations on the VAT treatment of vouchers are consulted. The work gives an overview of the tax treatment and points out problem areas as well as structuring possibilities. In this context, the temporary VAT reduction in connection with the Corona crisis and its effects are also addressed. The results show that an European regulation on the VAT treatment of vouchers is in principle to be viewed positively. However, numerous legal uncertainties remain with regard to the classification of vouchers and its assessment in general.

Keywords: VAT; single purpose voucher; multi purpose voucher; voucher directive.