The Cologne Tax Court has supported the Revenue's decision to disallow an input-VAT refund in cases, where some of the fields on the official refund application form were left blank (reference number: 2 K 4627/06, 2 K 813/10, 2 K 354/10).

Non EU residents are, under certain preconditions, entitled to a refund of VAT they paid, which they have to apply for with the Federal Tax Office. EU residents can apply through their national authorities, who will transfer such application to the respective German authorities. Non EU-members can only apply until June 30 of the following years, whereas EU members can apply until September 30, 2011 for input VAT paid in 2010.

The forms required for such application contain several queries on the use of the acquired products and their purpose. In the past, many applicants left these fields (no. 9a through 9c) blank, when claiming a full refund, as they believed the application to stand for itself. This has been successful in several occasions in the past, however the revenue has taken several of these cases to court successfully and has denied the claims. Thus, applicants should ensure that they fill out the applications completely.

Where an application was filed incompletely in the past, such application should be re-filed with a complete form before the respective cut-off date (I.e. June 30 for non EU residents and Sept 30 for EU residents).

We believe that such decisions are not in line with both German domestic law and EU law. Therefore, taxpayers should not accept, if their application has been rejected. However, the argumentation has to fit to the particular information that is missing. Various arguments will be tested in further cases pending at the Cologne Tax court (reference number: 2 K 106/04, 2 K 3985/04).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.