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Parliamentary questions
3 August 2010
Answer given by Mr Šemeta on behalf of the Commission

Under Article 9(1) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC(1) (the value added tax (VAT) Directive), any person who, independently, carries out in any place any economic activity, whatever the purpose or results of that activity is regarded as a taxable person. This applies in particular to a lawyer.

The VAT Directive does not provide for an exemption for services provided by lawyers (see Article 132 of the VAT Directive).

If a lawyer, being a taxable person, renders a service for consideration, whatever the level of such consideration, this constitutes a transaction subject to VAT based on Article 2(1)(c) of the VAT Directive. If a lawyer renders a service for free, this is in principle outside the scope of VAT (no VAT due). The above rule applies independently from whether a lawyer's service is paid by a recipient of that service or by a third party.

However, the Honourable Member's attention should be drawn to the fact that there are two Member States (Belgium and Greece) that may continue to exempt the supply of services by lawyers in general. This is however based on derogations, respectively Articles 371 and 375 in connection with Annex X, Part B, point (2) of the VAT Directive, and shall be applied exclusively by those Member States.

Additionally, Portugal may continue to apply a reduced rate to certain services provided in the framework of legal aid, but this is based on a special provision of Article 113 of the VAT Directive.

At present, the Commission does not intend to take any steps to harmonise further national practices in this area.

(1)Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax, OJ L 347, 11.12.2006.

OJ C 170 E, 10/06/2011
Last updated: 9 August 2010Legal notice