Taxes & Law

The new reporting obligation for platform operators and private sellers in e-commerce

Fatih-Kağan Taşkoparan

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Renting out your own apartment on Airbnb or clearing out the basement and selling unusable items on eBay classifieds - many private sellers use these and other platforms to sell items, but it is unlikely that they will keep records. In today's fynax blog, we explain why this is likely to become important with the new Tax Transparency Act and the associated reporting obligation, which came into force in Germany in 2023, and what exemptions there are.

Tax transparency for platform operators and private sellers

The new Tax Transparency Act follows the EU directive 2021/514 and regulates, among other things, the reporting obligation of platform operators such as Amazon or eBay to report private services and sales transactions to the Federal Central Tax Office by January 31, 2024. Operators of digital platforms are therefore also obliged to report information on the income of private individuals to the competent tax authorities, provided that the requirements for this are met. In order to include foreign providers in this process, there is to be an automated exchange of information between the EU member states. But when does the Tax Transparency Act actually come into effect? And are you also affected as a private seller?

Does the Tax Transparency Act affect me as a private seller?

As a general rule, all commercial users and retailers must be reported by the platforms to the Federal Central Tax Office with an overview of the sales made. This mainly affects platforms such as eBay, Amazon, Airbnb and Facebook Marketplace. However, there are certain basic requirements that must be met by private sellers before the data is forwarded to the tax office: The Tax Transparency Act only applies to private sellers if more than 30 sales and more than 2,000 euros in sales revenue have been generated per calendar year. In this case, the following seller data is reported to the tax office:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Bank details
  • Tax ID
  • Sales revenue, as well as fees and commissions of the respective platform

As is so often the case, however, there are also exceptions here: even if more than 30 sales or more than 2,000 euros in sales proceeds were generated, it is usually a question of the type of items sold. This is because items for everyday use, such as electronic devices or cars, may continue to be sold tax-free by private sellers via the platforms. The term "daily use" is to be understood here in a figurative sense; regular use of the items is sufficient, even if the legislator does not define this in more detail. Items that are not used on a daily or regular basis, such as a coin collection or antiques collection, are likely to fall under the taxation regulation.

You can read a ruling by the Federal Fiscal Court in a case study on online sales on the eBay platform here. read here.

In any case, as a private seller, it is advisable to keep records and provide information on the date, purchase/sale price, as well as costs and profit with corresponding evidence. The reporting obligation of the respective platform operators must be met by 31.01.2024.