VATMOSS in practice

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If you’re selling a product or service online, you probably know how much harder accepting payments from Europan consumers got since the 2015 VATMOSS rulings.

You now have several VAT rates to keep track of and apply and taking care of the required location evidence can be a real pain (try selling to someone who’s traveling).

Blocking EU countries

When asked how to handle VATMOSS, I usually advise to ignore it until at a later stage. I wouldn’t delay a product launch when it is far easier to simply block out European private consumers for the time being. It’s sad, but it’s true.

Apparently, this is also a feature that shop platforms have been offering for some time now. SendOwl, a company that helps you accept payments for your digital products, tweeted this earlier today:

SendOwl's tweet on their new country-blocking feature

The blog post they link to is from late 2014, so they have been offering this feature right from the start of VATMOSS.

Missed out revenue from EU customers

Curous what blocking European customers (not businesses) entirely would actually mean in terms of revenue for our products, I pulled up the following data for MailChimp for WordPress. It is taken from sales data for the last 2 years, since the ruling came into effect.

Category %
EU Consumer 18,5%
EU Businesses 13%
Non-EU 68,5%

About 18.5% of our revenue came from people (not businesses) living in one of the EU member states¹. Of that number, an average of 20% is collected taxes that we had to pay out to each member state using a rather cumbersome process.

With profit margins as high as 90% in the software industry, it’s not hard to imagine this being a viable option for businesses that do not yet have the resources available to properly handle VATMOSS.

This is the sad result of VATMOSS in practice. Hurting where it shouldn’t.


¹ Since the ibericode business is located in The Netherlands, the actual missed out revenue would be about 2-3% lower. Blocking EU countries becomes more viable when your business itself is located in one of the larger member states.