Internationalization of enterprises, free movement of capital and people in the European Union, direct investments from other countries – these are the reasons that determine that more and more companies operating in Poland acquire training services. They often take the form of webinars provided by foreign entities that do not have their registered office or permanent residence in Poland. The purchase of this type of services, due to their specificity, raises the question of how to properly classify them.
In general, there are several possible legal qualifications, i.e. considering these services as:
- admission to events (services);
- electronic services;
- not falling into any special category, therefore those that are determined according to general rules.
Admission to events (services)
Article 28g sec. 1 of the VAT Act shows that the place of providing access services to, inter alia, training is the place where this service actually takes place. However, admission to training can only be considered in the case of stationary training. In the case of purchasing the webinar service (online training), admission (i.e. physical entry to the place where the training takes place) does not take place. Hence, this provision will not apply here.
The VAT Act provides for a specific settlement system for electronic services (the seat of the service provider – art. 28k and art. 2 point 26 of the VAT Act).
Electronic services are services provided electronically, referred to in art. 7 of Regulation (EU) 282/2011 – services provided via the Internet or electronic network, the provision of which – due to their nature – is generally automated and requires minimal human participation, and their performance without the use of information technology is impossible – e.g.:
- accessing and downloading videos or
- automated distance learning, the operation of which requires the use of the Internet or a similar electronic network, requiring little or no human input, including virtual classrooms, except where the Internet or a similar electronic network is used as a simple tool for teacher-student communication.
However, electronic services are not, among others: services provided by specialists, such as lawyers and financial advisers, who provide advice to their clients via e-mail, or educational services in which the course content is provided by the teacher via the Internet or electronic network (i.e. via a remote connection).
With this in mind, the purchase of a “standard” webinar service is not an electronic service within the meaning of the aforementioned provisions.
When writing a “standard” webinar, the author means a service whose main component is the preparation of a lecture, and its consolidation and transmission in electronic form is secondary and auxiliary. This kind of service is more like legal advice given over the internet, which is not considered electronic.
This interpretation can also be found in numerous individual interpretations, for example the individual interpretation of the Director of the National Tax Information of August 24, 2020 (No. 0114-KDIP1-2.4012.195.2020.2.KST).
Different classification – general rules
Bearing in mind the above, the place of providing the services of the purchased webinar to taxpayers is determined pursuant to Art. 28b paragraph. 1 of the VAT Act, which states that the place of provision of services in the case of providing services to the taxpayer is the place where the taxpayer who is the recipient of the service has its registered office. As a consequence, the purchase of an online training service constitutes an import of services for the Polish taxpayer.
Such qualification of the purchased webinar service is confirmed, for example, by the individual interpretation of the Director of the National Tax Information of June 3, 2022 (No. 0111-KDIB3-3.4012.73.2022.4.MS).
Thus, in accordance with Art. 17 sec. 1 point 4 of the VAT Act, the provision of services for the performance of which the recipient is the taxpayer, constitutes the import of services within the meaning of Art. 2 point 9 of the VAT Act. In such a case, pursuant to Art. 17 sec. 2 of the VAT Act, the service provider does not account for output tax.
It should be emphasized that the import of services takes place regardless of whether the services are purchased from a taxpayer from an EU country or from a third country. In the case of importing services, if the services are purchased from a contractor from an EU country, the taxpayer is, however, obliged to register for EU VAT. However, when the service is purchased from a company outside the EU, it is not necessary.