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VAT practical manual 2021.

General functioning of the tax

In the application of the tax by businessmen or professionals, two aspects can be distinguished:

  1. For their sales or provision of services, the corresponding VAT installments are passed on to the purchasers or recipients, with the obligation to pay them into the Treasury.

  2. For their purchases, they bear fees that they have the right to deduct in their periodic self-assessments. In each settlement, the VAT charged to customers is declared, subtracting from this the amount incurred on purchases and acquisitions from suppliers, the result being either positive or negative.

If the result is positive, it must be deposited into the Treasury. If it is negative, in general, it is compensated in the following self-assessments. Only if at the end of the year, in the last declaration presented, the result is negative or if the taxpayers are registered in the monthly refund register, in any declaration, can you choose to request the refund or offset the negative balance in the following settlements.


This example shows how the tax works. It is an industrial product whose production chain begins with the sale of raw materials for transformation and ends with the sale to the final consumer. For simplicity, it is assumed that the businessman who sells the raw materials has not borne VAT. The applied rate is the current rate of 21%.

Total 105
Production chainPrice without taxOutput VAT
Sale priceInput VATVAT to be paid
Raw Materials 100 21 121 0 21 - 0 = 21
Transformation 200 42 242 21 42 - 21 = 21
Wholesaler 400 84 484 42 84 - 42 = 42
Sale by retailer 500 105 605 84 105 - 84 = 21

Each of the entrepreneurs has borne the tax that has been passed on to them by their supplier, this fee being the amount that they can deduct when submitting their corresponding VAT self-assessments.

The final impact, that is, the tax paid by the final consumer as VAT, has been 105 euros, which comes from multiplying the final price of the product, 500 euros, by the tax rate of 21%. This tax has been paid into the Public Treasury little by little by each businessman or professional based on the value added to the good or service in its specific production and distribution phase.

The tax is ultimately paid by the final consumer of the goods, but those who pay it to the Treasury are the businessmen or professionals who provide the services or deliver the goods.