After a long period of consultations, the Ministry of Finance issued the expected general ruling No. PT9.8101.3.2020, which concerns the popular fuel sales model based on fuel cards. The purpose of the general interpretation is to decide whether it is a chain transaction model (with VAT and the right to deduct) or a financial transaction (VAT exemption, without the right to deduct).

Three entities participate in the fuel card use patterns that are available on the market:

  • one of the entities (eg the lessor, the parent company) provides (hands over) to the contractor fuel cards which it is not an issuer;
  • the second entity – this contractor (e.g. lessee, subsidiary) using the above-mentioned cards purchase goods from a third entity – a supplier running a petrol station (e.g. a fuel company).

In the light of the general interpretation, the transaction of providing fuel cards should be classified as the provision of services if, in a given case, the following conditions are jointly met:

  • the customer (card holder) purchased fuel directly from suppliers operating petrol stations;
  • only the recipient decided about the ways of purchasing fuel (choosing the place of purchase), the quantity and quality of fuel, the time of purchase and the method of fuel use;
  • the recipient (excluding the intermediary entity) bears all costs related to the purchase of fuel;
  • the role of an intermediary was limited to providing the recipient with a financial instrument (fuel card) enabling the purchase of goods.

If the above conditions are met, the activity of an intermediary between the supplier and the recipient of the goods, which consists in providing fuel cards, should be classified as providing services to the latter (see the judgment of the CJEU in case C-235/18 Vega International, paragraph 41).