VAT Liability for Online Marketplaces in Germany

Germany has implemented significant changes to Value Added Tax (VAT) regulations, particularly affecting online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. These rules ensure that VAT is properly collected on goods sold through these platforms. This article provides a comprehensive overview of VAT liability for online marketplaces in Germany, including the legal framework, responsibilities of marketplace operators, practical implications for businesses, and support for sellers facing issues.

Legal Framework

The VAT liability rules for online marketplaces in Germany are outlined in § 25e of the German Value Added Tax Act (Umsatzsteuergesetz, UStG). These provisions were introduced as part of the broader EU VAT e-commerce package, which came into effect on July 1, 2021.

Key Provisions of § 25e UStG:

  1. Liability for VAT: Online marketplaces are liable for VAT on certain transactions conducted through their platforms, especially sales made by non-EU sellers to consumers in Germany.
  2. Record-Keeping Obligations: Marketplaces must maintain detailed records of transactions, including the names and addresses of sellers, the type and quantity of goods sold, and the date of sale. These records must be kept for ten years and made available to the German tax authorities upon request.
  3. VAT Collection and Remittance: Marketplaces are responsible for collecting and remitting VAT on behalf of non-EU sellers for goods delivered within the EU, ensuring that the correct amount of VAT is paid.

Responsibilities of Marketplace Operators

Operators of online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, must comply with several obligations to avoid liability for unpaid VAT:

  1. Ensuring Seller Compliance: Marketplaces must verify that their sellers are VAT-registered if required and that they comply with VAT obligations.
  2. Collecting VAT: Marketplaces are responsible for collecting VAT on sales made by non-EU sellers to German consumers and remitting it to the German tax authorities.
  3. Providing Documentation: Marketplaces must provide documentation to the tax authorities, detailing transactions and ensuring transparency in VAT collection and remittance.

Practical Implications for Businesses

For Online Marketplaces

  • Increased Administrative Burden: Marketplaces must implement systems to track and record transactions, verify seller VAT compliance, and collect and remit VAT. This can increase administrative costs and complexity.
  • Risk of Penalties: Failure to comply with the VAT regulations can result in significant penalties, including fines and potential legal action. Marketplaces must ensure strict adherence to avoid such risks.

For Sellers

  • VAT Compliance: Sellers, especially those outside the EU, must understand and comply with VAT obligations when selling through German marketplaces. Non-compliance can lead to removal from platforms and legal consequences.
  • Suspension from Platforms: Sellers who fail to comply with VAT regulations risk being suspended by the platform operators. Marketplaces like Amazon are proactive in suspending sellers who jeopardize their compliance.
  • Increased Transparency: The new rules require sellers to provide accurate information about their business and transactions, increasing transparency and accountability in the marketplace.

Potential Penalties and Liabilities

Non-compliance with the VAT regulations can lead to severe penalties for both marketplaces and sellers:

  • Financial Penalties: Significant fines can be imposed for failing to collect or remit VAT correctly. The exact amount of the fines depends on the extent and duration of non-compliance.
  • Legal Consequences: Persistent non-compliance can lead to legal action, including criminal charges in severe cases of fraud or deliberate evasion.
  • Personal Liability of Directors: Under German law, company directors can be held personally liable for VAT compliance errors. This includes financial penalties and potential legal action.

Role of WW+KN, a Baker Tilly Company

WW+KN, as part of Baker Tilly Germany, provides comprehensive legal and tax services to help businesses navigate the complexities of the VAT regulations. Our team includes specialized tax advisors and legal experts who can represent clients before the German tax authorities, handle VAT disputes, and provide strategic advice to ensure compliance.

Assistance for Suspended Sellers

Sellers who have been suspended from platforms like Amazon due to VAT compliance issues can seek assistance from WW+KN. We help sellers demonstrate their VAT compliance in Germany by:

  1. Providing Documentation: Assisting sellers in gathering and submitting the necessary documentation to prove VAT compliance.
  2. Liaising with Tax Authorities: Representing sellers in discussions with the German tax authorities to resolve compliance issues.
  3. Reinstatement Support: Working with marketplace operators to reinstate suspended seller accounts once compliance is demonstrated.


The VAT liability rules for online marketplaces in Germany represent a significant regulatory shift. By understanding the legal framework, responsibilities, and potential penalties, both marketplace operators and sellers can ensure compliance and avoid the risks associated with non-compliance. For personalized guidance on navigating these regulations and resolving VAT compliance issues, contact us at Our team of experts at WW+KN, a Baker Tilly Company, is ready to assist you with tailored solutions to meet your business needs.