The VAT committee found that otherwise, the warehousing services fall in the scope of the general business-to-business rule.
New place of supply rules for services (i.e., the VAT package) were effective beginning January 2010.
Under the general rule, services supplied in a business-to-business (B2B) environment are taxable for VAT purposes when the recipient of the services is established in Belgium. However, there are exceptions to this general B2B rule—including one for services connected to an immovable property. These services remain taxable for VAT purposes in the jurisdiction where the immovable property is located.
With respect to warehousing services, the position of the Belgian VAT authorities initially was that warehousing services are to be considered to be services connected to an immovable property, whereby no distinction has to be made between putting at the disposal of warehousing space in a passive manner and an active exploitation of warehousing space (i.e., with the provision of additional services).
However, the position of a number of other EU Member States (including France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) is that active warehousing services are to be considered to be as services falling in the scope of the general B2B rule.
These differences in interpretation among the EU Member States led to situations of double taxation or situations of no taxation—placing Belgium in a competitive disadvantage. For this reason, the Belgian VAT authorities decided to request the opinion of the VAT committee and pending resolution of this issue, to allow temporarily the application of the general B2B rule on warehousing services.
The VAT committee recently published its opinion concerning which services are to be considered to be connected to immovable property, and its position on warehousing services.
As determined by the VAT committee, in situations when a specific part of an immovable property is assigned for the exclusive use of the recipient of the services, the services are deemed to be connected to the immovable property. When this is not the case, the warehousing services fall in the scope of the general B2B rule.
The VAT committee found that any distinction between a passive or active exploitation is irrelevant.
The VAT committee’s opinions and guidelines are not binding. So, it remains to be seen whether Belgium and the other EU Member States will adapt the VAT committee’s position with respect to the VAT treatment of warehousing services.
Read a November 2012 report prepared by the KPMG member firm in Belgium: Warehousing services and VAT