Danske Bank: Will EU VAT Grouping Survive to Reverse Skandia?

In this article, the author explores a number of issues arising from the recent decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Danske Bank. Following this judgment, intra-entity supplies fall, in principle, within the scope of VAT if one establishment is a member of a VAT group, thereby recognizing the so-called “reverse Skandia” doctrine. The impact of the case is significant from a theoretical standpoint, although it remains to be seen whether it will actually change the current approach to Skandia in the European Union. In any event, the current state of ECJ jurisprudence will not make taxable persons’ VAT affairs any easier in the absence of legislative intervention. In the meantime, the judgment in Danske Bank is likely to bring new pressures to bear on taxable persons making use of branch structures across the European Union. If irrecoverable VAT charges start hitting internal flows that used to be disregarded, taxable persons may legitimately wonder if, in some cases, it may be better to de-VAT group or not VAT group at all.