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New reporting obligations for digital platform operators

The so-called Platform Tax Transparency Act (Platt­formen-­Steuertransparenzgesetz, PStTG) has been in force since 1.1.2023. This Act obliges digital platform operators to report information annually about their sellers/providers to the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern).

Platforms (not) covered by the PStTG

A platform according to Section3(1) PStTG – under the Act on Reporting Obligations and the Automatic Exchange of Information on Tax Matters a reporting platform operator – will generally be any system based on digital technologies that enables users to enter into contact with each other via the internet by means of software and to conclude legal transactions by using the platform. Therefore, price comparison websites, search engines and job boards do not constitute platforms within the meaning of the PStTG because, through the above-mentioned platforms, users are made aware of offerings but the actual legal transactions are concluded outside of these portals. Moreover, the PStTG does not cover the platform of an online retailer if it solely provides its own goods in its own online shop.

Please note: It is not just the platform operators that are based in Germany that have a reporting obligation, but also those from non-qualified third countries. In this respect, the Federal Central Tax Office will publish a list of qualified third countries for the purpose of identifying these.

Relevant activities and information

The reporting obligation will apply for the following activities if they are performed for remuneration:

  • letting of land and buildings (e.g. holiday homes),
  • provision of personal services (e.g. work carried out by a tradesperson, cleaning, delivery service, etc.),
  • sale of goods (e.g. trading second-hand children’s clothing or books, self-produced goods),
  • provision, for use, of means of transport (e.g. arranging transport services or renting out own camper van to other holidaymakers).

A platform operator has to report not only its master data but also the transaction data of all the reporting sellers/providers that perform relevant activities on its platform; such transaction data include, for example, a provider’s name, address and bank account details as well as the number of relevant activities and the amount of remuneration for the quarter. 

Reporting sellers/providers will be commercial and private sellers/providers that are based in Germany or in another EU Member State. This also includes sellers/providers from third countries that lease properties located in the EU. 

Please note: De minimis threshold levels have been provided for determining reporting obligations. With regard to the sale of goods, a seller’s transaction data would not have to be reported if, during the reporting period, the seller executed less than 30 transactions and, in doing so, generated total remuneration of less than €2,000.

Time limits 

Generally, a reporting platform operator has to have collected all the reportable information as at the 31.12 of the respective reporting period. The information that is collected has to be submitted annually to the Federal Central Tax Office, at the latest, by the 31.1 of the calendar year that follows the respective reporting period. Therefore, the reporting deadline for 2023 will expire on 31.1.2024. 

Please note: There is an intention to publish further requirements for the reporting procedure in the course of 2023.

Recommendation: It should be noted that violations of the PStTG may be sanctioned at various levels. For example, a fine of up to € 30,000 can be levied if a report is submitted incorrectly, incompletely, late or not at all.

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