WHICH MEMBER STATE HAS THE POWER TO LEVY VAT ON THE STORAGE OF GOODS?

A preliminary ruling is awaiting judgment at the EUCJ as to the question whether, in the context of the Directive 2006/112, the supply of the storage of goods falls under the general provisions of article 44 of the Directive or, on the contrary, falls under the specific provisions of article 47 of the same Directive which govern the « supply of services connected with immovable property ».

The experienced « VAT player » shall indeed raise the issue of knowing whether the said supply of storage is a single supply or consists of various individual supplies, each to be assessed separately (single supply of storage, supply of storage on the one hand and supply of reconditioning services on the other  hand, single and principal supply of transportation for which the interim storage would remain a mere ancillary supply, etc.).

As to the possibility of qualifying the said storage of goods as a supply of « service connected with immovable property » our VAT professional would indeed question whether the said real estate  is a constituent , central and essential element of the said supply of service and inevitably address the issue of « direct and immediate link ».

Is the subject matter  or the object of the said supply of storage the real estate , the right to use it or a specific part of it?

Indeed if the supply of storage is not granting the use of the real estate (given part of the warehouse dedicated for the sole use of the customer, for instance) the real estate is then nothing but a simple means of performing the supply.

The VAT Committee had in fact expressed a similar view (« assigned for the exclusive use ») at its July 2001 meeting.

It is therefore likely that the Court will consider that although the said supply of storage constitutes the principal element of a single service supply, it does not though qualify as a « supply of services connected with immovable property » as understood under the provisions of article 47 of the Directive since the beneficiary does not , in the case under examination, hold any right to use the warehouse or part of it which would  be reserved to his exclusive use.

The general rule should hence prevail on the specific rule and the place of taxation to TVA of this supply of storage be judged as being the Member State where the beneficiary of the supply of storage is established… since he is a registered VAT payer in his Member State of origin.