EU VAT returns

How to file EU VAT returns in just a few minutes

File EU VAT, they say.

File on time, they say.

But do they tell you how? Not really!

Well, that’s why we’re here — to guide you through the process of filing EU VAT. 

Filing a VAT return helps you with two things: it reports the amount you owe, and also the amount you can reclaim. (Cha-ching!)

Find the scenario below that matches your business.

Online businesses: How to file a return through VAT MOSS

VAT MOSS, or the VAT Mini One-Stop Shop, is a tax registration and filing scheme for digital businesses that are selling in Europe. Never heard of it? Then this quick guide is worth a read!

For businesses that are registered through VAT MOSS, tax returns are easy.

You file just once (in the country where you’re registered), and the money you pay is dispersed to all relevant countries for you.

BUT – you’re required to do this every quarter according to the following schedule:

  • 20 April, for the first quarter ending 31 March
  • 20 July, for the second quarter ending 30 June
  • 20 October, for the third quarter ending 30 September
  • 20 January, for the fourth quarter ending 31 December

Note: Even if you haven’t made a single sale that quarter, a ‘nil-return’ is still required.

You can submit the return directly in the country’s MOSS portal. Based on the information you enter, the website will automatically calculate how much VAT you owe. Then you’ll receive instructions on how to complete the payment. 

Non-European businesses who are registered for VAT MOSS can follow the example given in our guide about how to submit a VAT MOSS return as a non-EU business.

Digital Taxes illustration

The Ultimate Guide to EU VAT for Digital Taxes

Save time and eliminate the confusion & frustration of complying with EU VAT regulations with this free guide

Other businesses: How to file EU VAT returns

If you aren’t part of MOSS, then you have a different, more complex path through return filing.

Remember: you must file a return in every European country where you’ve registered for VAT.

Below we’ve tried to answer all your questions!

What info do you need to file an EU VAT return?

All 27 EU member states have their own formats for VAT returns. But there is some overlap!

Basic information that’s required across the board includes:

  • Sum of all taxable transactions (sales and purchases) at net value
  • VAT charged on these transactions (what you’ve collected from customers and what you’ve paid vendors)
  • Value of goods with nil or zero-rate VAT

We recommend you organize and record this information by country. Yes, we know that sounds tedious…

But in fact, Quaderno does that for you with our tax reports! We won’t file the return for you, but we do make it possible for you to fill out the forms in mere minutes. Because all the data you need is at your fingertips.

Basically, when it’s time to fill out the return, you can just click on a certain country in the app, and a tax report is produced for you instantly. All the information you need to file is there in one, easy-to-read place. You can give it a try with a 7 day free trial.

Note: If you made any sales in a different currency (i.e. – in the Danish Krone, but your MOSS uses the Euro), you will need to convert those amounts to the official currency of your MOSS. Use the European Central Bank’s official exchange rates.

How often do you need to file an EU VAT return?

Apart from the VAT MOSS deadlines listed above, EU Member States are free to set their own calendars for other VAT reporting. Countries typically follow the format below:

  • Monthly, usually required of businesses who sell a high volume of goods.
  • Quarterly, for mid-range businesses. 
  • Annual reporting is required in addition in certain countries, e.g. Italy and Austria. Other countries may require only a single annual return if your business doesn’t sell too much, e.g. Germany.

You should have been assigned a frequency when you first registered for VAT, so check those materials!

Note: Your expected filing frequency can change depending on your business revenue. If sales ramp up, you might be asked to file more often. If sales slow down, they’ll tell you to file less often.

When are EU VAT returns due?

Countries can also set their own deadlines. For example, Germany requires VAT filings within 10 days of the reporting period’s end. Other countries expect the returns at about 20 or 25 days.

To be sure, we recommend you check directly with the country where you’re registered for VAT and also the countries where your sales have passed the VAT threshold.

Where and how do you actually file the returns?

Surprising to no one, there are differences across the 27 states.

Some EU countries allow you to file the VAT returns online through a portal. Others allow you to fill out forms online and submit them electronically by email. And then others still require you to do it the old-fashioned way: print out the forms and mail them in by post.

Usually there are different forms for monthly, quarterly, and annual returns, so make sure you select the right one! You should be able to find them on the country’s tax authority website.

How do you pay if you end up owing money?

Some countries expect immediate payment of any VAT due (when filing online), others give you a grace period. Payments can be done by international bank transfer. Specific instructions should be provided by the tax authority, so keep a look out for those!

Note: It’s also possible that your business will be expected to make VAT pre-payments, based on data you’ve already submitted. The tax authority will let you know if this is required. In these cases, you might pay up some VAT each month, but then only file a return each quarter. Confusing, we know. 

What can help you with filing EU VAT returns?

Well, Quaderno! Instant tax reports provide you with all the information you need, per country, so you can file an EU VAT return in just a few minutes. It’s automatic accounting and tax compliance combined — so the only thing you need to do is file.

Quaderno is a tax management platform for businesses who want to grow without memorizing all the tax policies at home or abroad. From tax calculation and tax receipts to threshold alerts and comprehensive tax reports, Quaderno can handle not just EU VAT but VAT elsewhere, too, plus US sales tax and GST around the world.

Digital Taxes illustration

The Ultimate Guide to EU VAT for Digital Taxes

Save time and eliminate the confusion & frustration of complying with EU VAT regulations with this free guide

* At Quaderno we love providing helpful information and best practices about taxes, but we are not certified tax advisors. For further help, or if you are ever in doubt, please consult a professional tax advisor or accountant.