GERMANY - Formal invoice criterion - “Full name and address of the taxable person”
By judgment dated 15 November 2017 in C-374/16 Geissel the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that the term ‘full address’ required on VAT invoices does not have to be the address where the invoicing party carries out economic activity. Any type of address, including a post office box address, is sufficient if the taxable person can be contacted at this address. Following the ruling of the CJEU, the invoice details are merely a formal criterion required for input VAT deductibility. That means that if the material conditions for an input VAT deduction are fulfilled, an input VAT deduction can be claimed even if certain formal conditions are not met. The Federal Fiscal Court of Germany has already adopted this ruling of the CJEU in two judgments (dated 13 June 2018 and 21 June 2018), thereby amending previous case law.
By notification letter dated 7 December 2018, the German Federal Ministry of Finance also now recognises these principles. So, it is not necessary that the supplier’s economic activities necessarily be carried out at the address indicated on the VAT invoice issued by the supplier. Any type of address - for example, a post office box of a c/o (care of) address- is sufficient if the taxable person can be contacted at this address. The Articles of the German VAT Application Decree have been adapted accordingly and the principles of the circular can be applied to all open cases.