Value added tax in the online store: Warning due to insufficient information?

Stefano Viani


11 Jan 2016 Law Digital Agency

Does the product price include VAT or not? In online stores, this must always be apparent to the buyer. But is it enough, for example, to refer to the VAT in the general terms and conditions?

A ruling by the Bochum Regional Court says: No! In the case under consideration, an eBay merchant was warned by a competitor because it was not apparent during the ordering process in his store whether the prices quoted included VAT. In order to find information about this, buyers first had to scroll down several pages and open a "Shipping and Payment Methods" tab in the General Terms and Conditions by clicking on it. The plaintiff as well as the court recognized this as a violation of the relevant Price Indication Ordinance (PAngV).

Die Mehrwertsteuer im Online-Shop nicht gut sichtbar anzugeben, kann rechtliche Konsequenzen haben - Blackbit

Place your VAT information clearly visible

A reference to VAT is not sufficient if the ordering process can be completed without viewing this reference. In order to avoid warnings, you should not "hide" your VAT information in the general terms and conditions, but provide complete price information in the ordering process. The VAT information must be clearly attributable to the offer and must be clearly legible and easily recognizable. The store software xt:Commerce is adapted to the German legislation. Pay particular attention when choosing an online store system from abroad, whether the legal requirements can be met. But caution is still advised, even if the store software basically meets the requirements of the legislator and consumer protection, your agency must take the specifications into account, for example, when creating templates.

About the Author

As Executive Director of Blackbit digital Commerce GmbH, Stefano Viani manages all areas of the agency in the offices in Göttingen, Hamburg, Berlin and Kiev. His passion is the development of marketing strategies and their implementation in concrete measures.

In his free time, Stefano is passionate about riding his motorbike or working out in the gym.