The One Stop Shop (OSS) is a simplified European Union (EU) VAT declaring system designed to ease the burden of managing cross-border taxes for businesses. The OSS system, which came into effect on July 1, 2021, streamlines the process of handling VAT obligations for businesses that sell goods and services to final consumers across the EU. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the OSS, including its background, benefits, registration process, and how to use it effectively for your business.
Background of the OSS
The OSS was born out of the need to simplify and unify the VAT rules for businesses operating in the EU. Previously known as the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS), the system was expanded and rebranded as the OSS on July 1, 2021. The new OSS system encompasses three special schemes: the non-Union scheme, the Union scheme, and the import scheme. These schemes cater to businesses established both within and outside the EU, allowing for a more streamlined and efficient approach to VAT management.
Benefits of OSS
The OSS system offers several key advantages for businesses operating within the EU:
- Simplified VAT declaration: Businesses can declare and pay VAT due on cross-border sales to final consumers in the EU through a single electronic quarterly return. This eliminates the need for multiple VAT registrations and returns in different member states.
- Centralized communication: Businesses can communicate with the relevant tax authorities through a single point of contact. This can save time and effort when dealing with tax-related queries or issues.
- Reduced administrative burden: The OSS system helps businesses save time and resources by simplifying the tax declaration process and reducing the need for multiple VAT registrations across different EU member states.
- Improved compliance: By centralizing and simplifying the VAT declaration process, businesses can ensure better compliance with EU tax laws and reduce the risk of penalties or fines.
- Increased competitiveness: The OSS system helps businesses remain competitive in the EU market by reducing the administrative burden and cost associated with VAT management.
Understanding the OSS Schemes
The OSS system is divided into three special schemes designed to cater to businesses with varying VAT obligations:
1. Non-Union Scheme
The non-Union scheme is designed for businesses that are established outside the EU and do not have a fixed establishment within the EU. These businesses can use the non-Union scheme to declare and pay VAT on cross-border supplies of Telecommunications, Broadcasting, and Electronically supplied (TBE) services to non-taxable persons within the EU.
2. Union Scheme
The Union scheme is intended for businesses established within the EU or those with a fixed establishment in the EU. It simplifies VAT obligations for businesses selling goods and services cross-border to final consumers in the EU. The Union scheme covers:
- Cross-border supplies of TBE services to non-taxable persons within the EU
- All other cross-border supplies of services to non-taxable persons within the EU
- Intra-Community distance sales of goods
- Certain domestic supplies of goods, in specific circumstances
3. Import Scheme
The import scheme is a newly introduced OSS scheme designed for businesses established both within and outside the EU. It covers distance sales of goods imported from third territories or third countries to customers in the EU, subject to certain conditions. The import scheme is applicable for consignments with an intrinsic value not exceeding EUR 150 and excludes goods subject to excise duties.
Registering for the OSS
To take advantage of the OSS system, businesses must first register for the relevant scheme. Businesses established in the EU can register for the Union scheme electronically through their respective tax authorities’ online portal. Non-EU established businesses can register for the Union scheme using the non-Union registration portal.
Registrations previously held for the MOSS were automatically migrated to the OSS, and once registered, all supplies within the scope of the scheme must be declared through the OSS.
For non-EU established suppliers already registered for another scheme under the OSS in an EU member state, they can register for the Union scheme in the same state only if they are making intra-Community distance sales of goods from that member state.
OSS VAT Returns
One of the primary benefits of the OSS system is the ability to submit a single electronic quarterly VAT return for all supplies covered by the respective OSS scheme. This return, along with the VAT paid, is transmitted by the member state of identification to the corresponding member states of consumption via a secure communications network.
It is important to note that OSS VAT returns are additional and do not replace the VAT return a business submits to its member state under its domestic VAT obligations.
Using the OSS Effectively
To make the most of the OSS system, businesses must:
- Understand the applicable OSS scheme: Businesses need to determine which OSS scheme is relevant to their operations and ensure they are registered for the appropriate scheme.
- Keep accurate records: Businesses must maintain accurate records of their cross-border sales and VAT obligations to ensure proper reporting and compliance with the OSS system.
- Submit VAT returns on time: Businesses must submit their OSS VAT returns and pay the VAT due according to the deadlines set by the relevant tax authorities. Failure to do so may result in penalties or fines.
- Communicate with relevant tax authorities: Businesses should maintain open communication with the tax authorities in their member state of identification to address any tax-related queries or issues promptly.
- Stay informed about changing VAT regulations: Businesses must stay up-to-date with the latest VAT regulations and guidelines in the EU to ensure continued compliance with the OSS system.
The OSS system is an invaluable tool for businesses operating in the EU, simplifying the VAT declaration process and reducing the administrative burden associated with cross-border sales. By understanding the various OSS schemes, registering for the appropriate scheme, and effectively using the system, businesses can save time, resources, and ensure compliance with EU tax laws.