On 4th December 2017 the French Supreme court (Conseil d’Etat) has ruled against the French Tax Authorities regarding a decision of rejecting an EU refund directive claim (formerly 8th Directive) on the basis that the VAT refund claim was submitted after the deadline of 30th September.
This case was in regard to a 2011 VAT refund claim submitted by an Italian company (Costa Crociere SPA) in France.
The legal basis for this decision is that Article 15 of the EC directive, which provides a deadline for submitting an EU refund directive claim on the 30th of September of the calendar year following the refund period, has never been transcribed within the French VAT law (article 242-0 R of Annex II to the French Tax Code).
Therefore, the court ruled that in the case of the refund application of input VAT paid in France in 2011, submitted on 1st of October 2012 by Costa Crociere SPA via the Italian electronic portal, this was not considered to be a late application.
This decision from the French Supreme court opens the possibility within the French VAT system which could in theory see unsubmitted or rejected claims for late submission being accepted until the implementation of the Article 15 of the EC directive occurs within the French Tax code.
It appears however, that the claims where this could refer to would be limited to the period of 2016, as the general limit laid down for contentious claims is no later than the 31st December of the second year following that during which the input VAT became recoverable.
To this date, the transcription of Article 15 in the French Tax code has not been confirmed by the French Parliament.
Businesses that consider they may have unrecovered French input VAT for 2016 or those that had claims rejected for late submission should look to act as soon as possible.