Fundamentals of VAT

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Gain a thorough understanding of the basic concepts and principles of VAT and how the tax operates both internationally and domestically. Approaches of EU and non-EU states will be compared and legal aspects considered.

Learning objectives

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of a VAT type of tax and how it fits into the tax mix of states around the world.
  • Recognize how VAT operates, particularly in respect of output tax and input tax, in such a way that it remains neutral in its application by businesses. 
  • Identify how VAT applies to supplies of both goods and services, including when provided electronically and to international transactions. 
  • Apply the concept of taxable person, EU VAT group and fixed establishment, according to the recent ECJ decisions. 
  • Interpret how VAT works within the European Union’s free market, including the measures introduced to address the impact of COVID-19 and the new VAT e-commerce rules. 
  • Define how the system allows for neutrality by ensuring that imports and exports are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged over domestic supplies.
  • Identify the impact of exemption in VAT and how tax is calculated by businesses that deal in exempt supplies.
  • Categorize some of the more important administrative issues that VAT requires.


Introductory (Basic)

Delivery method

QAS Self study

Field of study


Course review

This course was last reviewed in March 2021


This course introduces the basics of value added taxes. As such, no great understanding of VAT is required as the course will build from the absolute basics through to some of the more complex issues such as exemption and internationally traded services. The course looks at both the EU VAT system and some of the developments in states that have adopted value added taxes in more recent times. It does not, therefore, focus on VAT as applied in any one state or group of states but takes a global view. Given the importance of VAT in the European Union, the course will consider some of the specific issues that apply to trade between EU Member States.

While this course is suitable for practising professionals, it is also very useful as additional study material in preparing for the CIOT examination - Advanced Diploma in International Taxation (ADIT – Module 3.02 - EU VAT Option). Further information about this qualification can be found at the ADIT website.

Study time

Audio lesson: 4 hours

Self study: 8 hours

Further reading (optional)

Access to the course is granted for a period of 2 months, from the date of ordering. 

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

The recommended CPE points for this course are as follows:

  • NASBA (The National Association of State boards of Accountancy, US) - 14 points
  • CIOT (The UK Chartered Institute of Taxation) – 21 points

The International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have the final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website.

In addition, International Online Tax Courses in many cases qualify for CPE credits pursuant to the rules of a number of professional associations other than those listed above. Participants are encouraged to check with their professional and/or national associations to determine eligibility in this respect.

For more information regarding administrative policies such as complaint and refund, please contact IBFD International Tax Training via email. Please note that once access to an online course has been granted, a refund will no longer be possible.