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Summary of the Judgment
Summary of the Judgment
Judgment of the Court (Fifth Chamber) of 11 June 1998.
Société générale des grandes sources d'eaux minérales françaises v Bundesamt für Finanzen.
Reference for a preliminary ruling: Finanzgericht Köln - Germany.
Value added tax - Interpretation of Article 3(a) of the Eighth Council Directive 79/1072/EEC - Obligation of taxpayers not established in the country concerned to annex the original invoices or import documents to applications for a refund of the tax - Possibility of annexing a duplicate where the original has been lost for reasons beyond the control of the taxpayer.
1 Tax provisions - Harmonisation of laws - Turnover taxes - Common system of value added tax - Tax refunds for taxpayers not established in the country concerned - Obligations of the taxpayer - Submission of original invoices or import documents - Possibility for Member States to allow submission of duplicate invoices or import documents where original lost for reasons beyond the control of the taxpayer - Whether permissible - Conditions
(Council Directive 79/1072, Art. 3(a))
2 Tax provisions - Harmonisation of laws - Turnover taxes - Common system of value added tax - Tax refunds for taxpayers not established in the country concerned - Documents to be produced in order to obtain a refund - Principle of non-discrimination - Obligation of Member States to allow taxpayers, regardless of the place where they are established, to use means of proof which only taxpayers established in the country concerned are permitted to rely on
(EC Treaty, Art. 6; Council Directive 79/1072)
3 Article 3(a) of the Eighth Directive 79/1072 on the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to turnover taxes - Arrangements for the refund of value added tax to taxable persons not established in the territory of the country - is to be interpreted as not precluding Member States from providing in their national law that a taxable person who is not established in that Member State may prove his entitlement to a refund by submitting a duplicate invoice or import document where the original has been lost for reasons beyond his control, provided that the transaction which led to the application for a refund occurred and there is no risk of further applications for a refund.
Secondary law must comply with the general principles of law, and in particular the principle of proportionality. Exclusion of the possibility for a Member State to allow an application for a refund in such exceptional circumstances is not necessary to achieve the general aim of the Eighth Directive, which is to prevent fraud or tax evasion.
4 Where a taxable person established in a Member State may prove his entitlement to a refund of value added tax by submitting a duplicate or photocopy of the invoice if the original which he received has been lost for reasons beyond his control, the principle of non-discrimination set out in Article 6 of the Treaty and referred to in the fifth recital in the preamble to the Eighth Directive 79/1072 requires that the same possibility be extended to taxable persons not established in that Member State if the transaction which led to the application for a refund occurred and there is no risk of further applications for a refund.