EU VAT rules on digital downloads

As far as I can tell, none of the major photo hosting platforms have got round to implementing the changes to EU VAT that occurred over two years ago.

For those not familiar with the issue: The EU changed the rules so that if you are selling electronically fulfilled products from one EU country to a customer in another EU country, you have to charge VAT at their local rate. To further complicate matters, because different countries have different VAT registration levels they set the point at which these rules cut in at zero.

I spoke to someone from Zenfolio at a trade show last year and took a while to explain that this issue affects every EU customer who sells digitally across EU borders.

Given that there has been no movement on a fix I decided to ask the UK HMRC about the intricacies of the problem. Remarkable for a government department they were incredibly helpful and confirmed with me a workaround.

The key point of the regs is that they only apply if the customers purchase is largely automated, if there is sufficient human intervention then the old rules apply.

I have currently set my account to require approval for all orders, if I encounter an order that I suspect is from a customer in another EU country I will replace the image with one that says that I'll email them the images separately. This process is enough to ensure I don't have to charge and remit VAT to the customers tax authorities.

This is obviously not a scalable solution for all due to the effort involved and is not infallible as we are not provided with the country of the purchaser for digital purchases.

Until Zenfolio get round to implementing the automatic charging and remitting of the correct VAT then this is an alternative to processing the VAT yourself. Depending on how far off they are with a fix, a temporary measure would be for them to add the option of putting any order that would fall under the new rules on hold and allowing us to arrange the delivery outside the platform.
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