What is Reverse Charge?


Reverse Charge – everything you need to know

Reverse Charge concerns a special regulation in the sales tax law, according to which not the service provider, but the recipient of the service has to pay the sales tax. If you have been wondering for a while what exactly this special regulation is about, then you should not miss this post.

The reversal of the tax debt

The applicable VAT law states that the service provider must pay the sales tax to the tax office. The recipient of the service, in turn, can claim the VAT paid as input tax (if the recipient of the service himself is an entrepreneur). On the other hand, if the tax debt is reversed, the tax liability is transferred to the beneficiary for certain services. Although this may initially sound somewhat complicated to laypeople in tax law, this provision also brings benefits. Simplified, the whole thing works as follows:


the performing entrepreneur owes VAT to the tax office

Reverse charge:

the recipient of the service owes the sales tax

Why reverse charge?

The reversal of the tax debt should primarily serve the simplification of the tax procedure, but also the fight against VAT fraud, such as the so-called carousel fraud. Carousel fraud involves the use of cross-border supplies which are tax-free for the payer. Experts believe that it causes the loss of billions of euros every year, which will eventually have to be paid by taxpayers.

Conditions and Scope

The reversal of the tax liability is regulated in § 13b UStG, according to which the tax liability is transferred to the recipient of the service, if this is possible within the tax law.

In these business areas, reverse charge applies:

  • Deliveries of works in Germany carried out by an entrepreneur resident abroad (§ 13 b As. 2 No. 1 UStG)
  • Deliveries of objects assigned as collateral outside the insolvency proceedings (§ 13b As. 2 No. 2 UStG)
  • Turnover which falls under the Real Estate Transfer Tax Law (§ 13b (2) no. 3 UStG)
  • Construction works (§ 13b Asb. 2 No. 4 UStG)
  • Cleaning of buildings or parts of buildings (§ 13b (2) No. 8 UStG)
  • Deliveries of gold (§ 13b (2) No. 9 UStG)
  • Electronic goods deliveries of mobile phones, tablet computers, game consoles, circuits, etc. (§ 13b (2) No. 10 UStG)

Reverse charge for construction works

There are special requirements for the reverse charge procedure for construction works:

  • For construction projects to property developers, the reverse charge procedure is not possible
  • Reverse charge is mandatory if the recipient of the service provides sustainable construction work himself
  • For the provision of sustainable construction work, a certificate is issued by the tax office, provided the entrepreneur generates 10% of his turnover in construction work

The 3 most common mistakes with reverse charge

  • The invoice shows sales tax
  • The reference to the reversal of the tax debt is missing
  • The VAT identification numbers are missing

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