A foreign business with neither seat, place of management or branch in Germany may only appoint a fiscal representative to fulfil all German VAT obligations on its behalf and for its account where its only German sales are VAT-free and it has no input tax to be deducted. The fiscal representative may be anybody (person, firm or organisation) entitled to offer tax consulting services.
At first sight, this provision would seem to be superfluous in that a fiscal representative may only be appointed by those who would neither pay, nor claim a refund of, VAT. Indeed, its application in practice is confined to only a very few special cases.
This position contrasts starkly with the corresponding rules in most other EU countries, which allow (or require) foreigners without any form of local permanent establishment or physical presence to appoint a fiscal representative to represent them in all their dealings with the VAT authorities. However, the actual distinction between Germany and the other EU countries is apparent rather than real, since it is ultimately only a question of the formality of who should sign the VAT returns and who bears the direct responsibility for all VAT matters vis-à-vis the tax or customs authorities. A foreign business with actual or potential VAT reporting and record keeping requirements in Germany, for example a foreign supplier delivering goods within and throughout the EU through a German-based logistics services provider, can of course appoint any professional accountant or accounting firm (or, in some cases, a trade association or other entity) to maintain the records and prepare all the filings and other documentation on its behalf. The provider of the accounting services can, as a practical matter, resolve routine queries with the authorities on behalf of his client and although he cannot formally assume the client's public law responsibilities as a taxpayer, he would naturally remain liable to the client for adherence to proper professional standards under the normal rules of professional liability
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