If you are engaged in e-commerce in the European Union, sooner or later you will be confronted with such concepts as the special schemes OSS and IOSS. In order to avoid tax risks with value added tax (VAT) it is necessary to understand what they are and what their differences are.
What is OSS?
OSS (ONE STOP SHOP) is a special turnover tax scheme for services or goods that you sell to your customers via your website or via a marketplace (e.g. Amazon, Etsy) mainly to individuals. In this case, the goods are sold to the end buyer to an individual from the EU or to a company without a European VAT number from a warehouse located in any of the EU countries.
NB! The special OSS scheme for the taxation of goods does not apply if the sale takes place from a warehouse in the EU within the same country where the warehouse is located. I.e. if the warehouse is in Germany and the end buyer is in Germany, you have the obligation to obtain a VAT number in Germany and to file a return with the German tax authorities.
What is IOSS?
IOSS (IMPORT ONE STOP SHOP) is a special scheme for value added tax on goods imported from outside the EU to the EU directly to the buyer without a warehouse in the EU (mainly buyers of individuals). By default, value added tax for such goods is paid by the buyer and is engaged in declaration of goods and payment of taxes. In order to make life easier for your customers, this special taxation procedure was introduced, which shifts this obligation from the customer to you.
What is the difference between OSS and IOSS?
The difference is how the goods get to the end buyer. If the goods first go to the warehouse in the EU and then are sent from there to the end buyer in the EU, then the OSS scheme applies. If the goods are not sent to the warehouse in the EU but, for example, from China directly to the final EU buyer, then the IOSS scheme applies.
Be careful when using the IOSS scheme
If you use the IOSS scheme and do dropshipping, then you need to make sure that the goods you buy from the supplier, who will send the goods directly to the end buyer (for example from Aliexpress), are not already subject to European value added tax. If you have specified that the marketplace itself pays European value added tax, then you do not need to use the IOSS scheme. Otherwise you will have a situation of double taxation.