When is VAT due and when input tax, if only an invoice exists?

The tax office never left any doubt that VAT was always due within ten days after predeclaration or return (§18 I 1 UStG), but always tried to delay acknowledgement in the case of input tax. Is that right?

Let me begin with a bit of explanation. VAT or value added tax is levied on sales and services rendered in Germany by and for a business in Germany (§2 UStG). Input tax is actually nothing but VAT, only seen from the perspective of the service provider or purchaser. Input tax functions as a prepayment on a VAT bill (§15 UStG)..

A business always has to pay VAT for the month in which it rendered a service, even if no bill was written or the invoice has not yet been paid. A business person tried to pull the same trick with the tax office. He wanted to deduct input tax from his VAT bill as soon as he had rendered the services, but not yet invoiced for them.

The Federal Tax Court (re V R 33/01), after consulting with the European Court of Justice, ruled that this is not permissible. Input tax can only be claimed once you have a correctly formatted invoice in your hands. The time of performance is thus irrelevant.