VAT in conditions of transition to the digital economy: lessons for Ukraine

Oksana N. Garkushenko, M. Thiel


Despite the reputation of VAT as a convenient tool for accumulation of significant amounts of tax revenues to the budgets with relatively low administrative costs, the broad use of new information and communication technologies and the spread of e-commerce throughout the world considerably affects this tax’s efficiency, increases the risk of non-taxation or double taxation of operations, made in the framework of international trade, and violates the principle of fairness between goods and services, traded (provided) offline and online.In this regard, this paper outlines the main list of issues, that arise when using VAT to e-commerce transactions (especially - international ones), and describes main approaches, that are planned to apply or are already applied by the leading countries in the context of economical development and e-commerce.In general, international organizations (OECD, EU) have confirmed that e-commerce transactions are subject to VAT on a destination principle, and all sellers must be registered for VAT purposes in the countries, where their clients are located. However, there are still problems of international co-operation and coordination, related to the VAT application to international transactions.For less developed countries, emerging economies, and countries, that are planning to become EU member-states (such as Ukraine), not only the problems of applying VAT to e-commerce transactions, which are not solved in the most developed countries, must be addressed, but also those, that impede their economic and social development.Based on the results of the analysis, the paper offers recommendations on improving the legislation on e-commerce taxation in Ukraine and general recommendations that should contribute to the development of this type of trade in the country.


value added tax; e-commerce; tangible goods; intangible goods; international trade; VAT systems

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