Taxation of postal services after April 1, 2013
Not every entrepreneur knows that in April 2013 the provision governing the use of the VAT exemption for postal services was changed (Article 43 (1) (17) of the VAT Act). Currently, this privilege is only available to universal services within the meaning of the Postal Law. What does it mean? Well, if the entrepreneur determines individual conditions for the provision of such benefits for him, then they are charged with 23 percent. VAT.
What was the taxation of postal services like until April 2013?
Until the change was introduced (until the end of March 2013), postal services and the supply of goods closely related to these services, performed by the operator obliged to provide universal postal services, were exempt from VAT.
At the outset, it is worth considering what exactly is meant by "postal service". Their definition can be found in the Postal Law Act of 23 November 2012. Such services should be considered provided in domestic or foreign trade, for profit:
- collectively or separately collecting, sorting, delivering postal items and non-addressed printed forms,
- shipment of postal items and non-addressed printed forms, if it is performed jointly with at least one of the activities referred to in point 1,
- sending postal items using electronic means of communication, if at the stage of receiving, transporting or delivering an information message, they take the physical form of a letter item,
- running exchange points enabling the reception and exchange of correspondence between entities using the service of these points,
- carrying out postal money orders.
However, postal services do not include:
- transport and delivery of own parcels, if it is performed without the participation of third parties,
- transport of items other than correspondence, performed on the basis of separate regulations,
- mutual exchange of correspondence free of charge by the entities exchanging,
- accepting, sorting, transporting and delivering parcels by special mail of the minister responsible for internal affairs,
- acceptance, sorting, transportation and delivery of parcels by military field mail.
Another important issue is to determine who is considered to be the operator obliged to provide universal postal services. By the end of 2012, the notion of a public operator whose duties were entrusted to Poczta Polska disappeared from the postal law.
In its place, the concept of a designated operator, obliged to provide universal services, was introduced. He will be appointed every 10 years on the basis of a competition conducted by the President of the Office of Electronic Communications. This solution will only come into force, as currently there are transitional provisions in force, according to which, for a period of three years from the occurrence of the changes, the duties of the designated operator will be performed by Poczta Polska. For this reason, she is the entity that benefits from the exemption under Art. 43 sec. 1 point 17.
Exemption of universal services from April 2013
The new wording of the above-mentioned The provision indicates that VAT is exempt from universal postal services provided by an operator obliged to provide such services and the supply of goods closely related to these services. The subjective and objective exemption (covering the activities carried out by a specific entity specified in the act) was maintained. From the earlier version, point 17 showed that all postal services provided by Poczta Polska are exempt from tax. Currently, universal postal services are an activity that uses this privilege.
What are these types of benefits? Pursuant to Art. 45 of the postal law, universal services are considered to be provided in domestic and cross-border traffic, as part of the obligation, postal services including:
- clearance, sorting, transport and delivery:
letter-post items, including registered and insured items, weighing up to 2,000 g and dimensions calculated with a tolerance of 2 mm:
- maximum - 900 mm, being the sum of the length, width and height, with the largest dimension not exceeding 600 mm, and in the case of a rolled letter item - 1040 mm, being the sum of the length and double diameter, with the largest dimension not exceeding 900 mm ,
- minimum - 170 mm in the case of a rolled letter item, being the sum of its length and double diameter, with the largest dimension not being less than 100 mm,
- minimum address side - 90 x 140 mm,
- parcels for the blind,
- postal parcels, including insured ones, weighing up to 10,000 g and having dimensions, the largest of which does not exceed 1,500 mm, and the sum of the length and the largest circumference measured in a direction other than the length does not exceed 3,000 mm,
- sorting, transport and delivery of postal parcels sent from abroad weighing up to 20,000 g and with dimensions referred to in point 1 (a). c).
The universal service obligation should primarily be performed in a uniform manner under comparable conditions.
As explained by the Ministry of Finance, the purpose of the introduced modifications is to adjust Polish regulations to EU law.
What are the consequences for entrepreneurs?
The discussed changes mean that postal services that are not universal in nature do not benefit from VAT exemption. The reason for such a state of affairs may be their provision in a specific area or for selected entities meeting the contractual conditions.
An example of such services may be agglomeration parcels, which Poczta Polska describes as made available at specific posting offices and consisting in delivery in areas covering the administrative borders of cities and towns with an urbanized nature and infrastructure related to cities. Such parcels must meet certain conditions (in terms of weight and dimensions). Moreover, their implementation takes place on the basis of a written agreement concluded with the client.
In connection with the above, all postal services, the terms of which are agreed individually with Poczta Polska, are currently taxed at the basic VAT rate of 23%. This means that the buyers of these services may receive invoices from Poczta Polska documenting both exempt activities and VAT taxable activities. In the case of the latter situation, if the entrepreneur who is an active VAT payer uses the purchased services to perform taxable activities, he has the right to reduce the amount of tax due by the input tax.