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VAT: special scheme for gold

The purpose of this document is to supplement the uniform basis of assessment for VAT in the Community by introducing a special scheme for gold


Council Directive 1998/80/EC of 12 October 1998, supplementing the common system of value added tax and amending Directive 77/388/EEC - Special scheme for investment gold. [Official Journal L 281 of 17.10.1998]


In order to promote the use of gold as a financial instrument, this Directive introduces a tax exemption for supplies of investment gold. Previously, the normal tax arrangements applied to investment gold. Under those arrangements, supplies of investment gold were in principle subject to VAT, but some Member States were authorised on a transitional basis to exempt them. The new Directive eliminates these distortions of competition between Member States and, at the same time, enhances the competitiveness of the Community gold market.

Definition of investment gold:

  • gold, in the form of a bar or a wafer of weights accepted by the bullion markets, of a purity equal to or greater than 995 thousandths, whether or not represented by securities (Member States may exclude from the scheme small bars or wafers of a weight of 1 g or less);
  • gold coins which are of a purity equal to or greater than 900 thousandths, are minted after 1800, are or have been legal tender in the country of origin, and are normally sold at a price which does not exceed the open market value of the gold contained in the coins by more than 80 %. Each year the Member States must indicate which coins meeting these criteria are traded on their territory. These lists will be published in the Official Journal.

The supply, intra-Community acquisition and importation of investment gold are exempted from value added tax by the Member States.

However, a right of option exists for taxation of supplies of gold to another taxable person by:

  • taxable persons who produce investment gold or transform any gold into investment gold (Member States must allow the right of option in these cases);
  • taxable persons who, in their trade, normally supply gold for industrial purposes (Member States may allow the right of option in these cases).

The Member States must specify the details of the use of these options and inform the Commission thereof.

The Directive lays down rules governing the right of deduction of taxable persons involved in the production or supply of investment gold or in transforming gold into investment gold in the event that they have not opted for taxation of their supplies.

Traders in investment gold have special obligations designed in particular to prevent the opportunities of tax fraud resulting from the dual use of gold (industrial and investment gold). These require them to keep account of all substantial transactions in investment gold and to keep documentation to allow identification of customers for a period of at least five years.

In certain circumstances, Member States may designate the purchaser rather than the seller as the person liable to pay the tax (reverse charge procedure) in order to prevent tax fraud and reduce the costs of the transaction.

With regard to transactions on a regulated gold bullion market, Member States may be authorised not to apply the special scheme and introduce simplification measures.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive (EC) No 1998/80EC



OJ L 281 of 17.10.1998

Last updated: 31.08.2006