Linden Lab Official:Value Added Tax (VAT) Frequently Asked Questions

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Contents

Introduction

In accordance with the sales tax regulations of European Union countries in which Second Life Residents live, Linden Lab must collect and remit Value Added Tax, or VAT, from Residents. This article explains:

  • Who is charged VAT in general
  • How Linden Lab determines who to charge VAT
  • What items Linden Lab charges VAT for
  • How you can see what items had VAT charged
  • How you can register for VAT exemption
  • Other items of interest

Basic information

Who is charged VAT?

Only Residents who live in the European Union are charged VAT. The EU allows people and companies to register for VAT exemption, which we abide by.

How does Linden Lab determine who to charge VAT for?

When you registered your account, you told us what country you live in. If that country is in the EU, then VAT is applied.

What are the items for which Linden Lab charges VAT?

Anything that you pay Linden Lab for has VAT applied. This includes:

  • Premium account registration
  • Purchases from the Land Store
  • Land use fees (tier)
  • Private Region fees
  • Land auctions
  • LindeX transaction fees

What are the items for which Linden Lab doesn't charge VAT?

Transactions in L$ between individual Residents, that do not involve Linden Lab as a direct party, are not subject to VAT.

How can I tell what items had VAT charged?

Your Account History in your Dashboard displays:

  • Each transaction you've made
  • Whether VAT was applied
  • The rate at which VAT was applied
  • The amount of VAT charged for each transaction

How do I enter my VAT registration ID?

If you have a VAT registration ID that makes you exempt from VAT, enter it as follows:

  • When registering a new account, there's a step during the registration process where you can enter your VAT registration ID.
  • For an existing account for which you want to enter your VAT registration ID, click here to enter it.

I need an invoice that states the items for which VAT was charged

Your Transaction History should tell you:

  • Each transaction you've made
  • Whether VAT was applied
  • The rate at which VAT was applied
  • The amount of VAT charged for each transaction

Additionally, your Account Statements (downloadable as PDF files) contain a Summary section that groups all VAT charges into a single total; this serves as a summary of VAT invoices for each month.

How do I get an invoice for my payments?

To get an invoice to prove that you paid VAT:

  1. Log in to your Dashboard on secondlife.com
  2. Click the Account section on the left to expand it
  3. Click Account Statements.

You can download statements for every month of your account's existence, up to and including the last complete month (for example, if you check in the middle of December 2012, you'll see November 2012 as the latest statement). These statements are permanently available and you can download them as many times as you like.

If you need to claim VAT back from your tax office, the Summary section of the statement groups all VAT charges into a single total; this serves as a summary of VAT invoices for each month.

Linden Lab's approach to VAT

Linden Lab is based in the United States. Why are you charging VAT for European Residents?

The best place to get full details about European legislation is at Europa, "the portal site of the European Union." It provides up-to-date coverage of European Union affairs and all legislation currently in force or under discussion.

The relevant section on that site is called "VAT: Special Arrangements Applicable to Services Supplied Electronically". (German) (Spanish) (French) (The Directives were implemented to create a level playing field for European Union (EU) businesses with regard to the indirect taxation of electronic commerce. Essentially, prior to this Directive non-EU-based companies providing electronic services to EU customers had an advantage in that they were not required to charge those customers VAT:

"The objective of this Directive is to introduce new harmonised rules and thus eliminate distortions in competition for radio and television broadcasting services and electronically supplied services within the EU. The absence of a clear and fair tax regime was a disincentive to investment and put EU business at a competitive disadvantage."

Second Life classifies as an electronically supplied service in the definition below:

"Electronically supplied services include services such as cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific, educational, entertainment, information and similar services as well as software, video games and computer services generally."

Under the Directive, Linden Lab is required to register with the tax authority and then to charge non-business customers VAT at the rate prevalent in their EU country:

"Non-EU businesses are able to register with a tax authority in a Member State of their choosing. They are required to charge VAT to non-business customers in the EU according to the standard tax rate in the Member State where the customer lives."

Is the Second Life billing office based in an EU country?

No. Linden Lab has registered as a non-resident EU business, meaning that we do not have sales offices in Europe. Non-resident EU business that provide "Electronically Supplied Services" such as hosted applications, downloadable software and downloadable music, must charge each of its customers VAT according to the VAT rate of the country where the customer resides.

Can't I just say that I live outside the EU?

If you falsely claim that you live in a country that doesn't charge VAT, it's very likely that discrepancies between your IP address and your declared country will prompt us to flag your account for review or even suspend it.

Why should European Residents pay more for everything in Second Life for no additional benefit?

The EU Commission implemented the VAT rule about Electronically Supplied Services by non-EU resident entities in order to level the playing field for EU-based providers of services. The aim is to enable European providers of competitive services to Second Life to compete equally with non-EU-based providers as regards customer taxation.

Why is Linden Lab discriminating against Europeans?

We are not discriminating against Europeans. We are merely trying to abide by the laws that are applicable to all non-EU based providers of Electronically Supplied Services.

Doesn't this distort the market within Second Life to an extent?

All taxes distort markets in some way. The aim of this one is to enable EU providers of virtual worlds to compete fairly with Linden Lab. Its impact on EU entrepreneurs within Second Life appears to be a side effect.

Did Linden Lab implement VAT to avoid having to make income tax declarations to the IRS for Second Life users?

No. Charging EU Residents VAT and remitting it to the Residents' home European country is required by EU Law. The US government has published its opinion about taxation in virtual worlds here.

Does Linden Lab charge any US sales tax to people in the EU?

No. There's no double taxation.

Do your prices already include VAT, or is VAT added on?

VAT is added on top of the prices that we quote.

Does Linden Lab charge additional VAT in L$ for uploading animations?

No. At present VAT does not apply to any inworld transactions.

When I purchase L$ on the LindeX, is there a VAT applied?

No, because you are purchasing L$ from another Resident, not from Linden Lab.

Special circumstances

Can I be billed to my company's name?

I own a business in real life that has a VAT ID but my Second Life account is listed in my personal name. How can I make sure all my bills from Linden Lab will be made out to my company?

Invoices from Linden Lab will be made out to the information that we have on file. If that address is in the EU, taxes are required. If you need to change the information that we have on file for you, please visit your Dashboard. Please be aware that if your billing information does not match the address you've provided us, you may have trouble paying and if the country of the IP address with which you regularly log into is different than your billing address our system may hold your account for potential fraud.

What if I've moved from the EU?

I lived in the EU at the time I registered my account and now I don't. How do I change the information that you have on file for me?

Invoices from Linden Lab will be made out to the information that we have on file. If that address is in the EU, taxes are required. If you need to change the information that we have on file for you, please visit your Dashboard. Please be aware, if your billing information does not match the address you've provided us, you may have trouble paying and if the country of the IP address with which you regularly log into is different than your billing address our system may hold your account for potential fraud.

How do I handle taxes for European customers?

I have European customers who are renting/buying land from me sometimes with L$ and sometimes through Paypal--how do I handle tax?

We recommend that you consult a qualified tax advisor.

What if I live in an area of the EU where VAT isn't charged, like the Canary Islands?

We are reviewing our records for these locations and will ensure that we do not charge VAT where it is not required.

Am I required to pay VAT on Land Maintenance fees if I pay for it using credits on my account from selling L$?

Yes. The requirement to charge VAT is determined by the SKU of the product that is purchased not the source of the funds.

How does VAT apply to group-owned land, when some of the members reside in the EU?

We determine VAT by reviewing the billing information and address on the account and we periodically review primary IP address of log on in addition to other forms of diligence from time to time. If the group's information indicates it is an EU group, then VAT will be applied.

I made a change to my account information, but I'm still being billed at the old rate

Different countries charge different VAT rates; if you've moved to a new country and need to reflect that change in your account, it can take up to ten minutes for that change to take effect due to technical considerations. Any payments you make during that time will be subject to the old VAT rate.

If you've entered your VAT registration ID for VAT exemption, be aware that it may take up to two hours for this to take effect due to technical considerations.

KBwarning.png Warning: Please be aware that tax evasion is considered a serious crime in most countries, and that falsification of information to evade payment of VAT may result in fines and/or criminal prosecution. Linden Lab will cooperate with government authorities in cases involving potential falsification of information to evade payment of VAT.