VAT and Insurance: The European Union

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


In European VAT, insurance is exempt from the tax. Determination of the scope of exemption for ‘insurance and reinsurance transactions, including related services performed by insurance brokers and insurance agents’ is far for being clear in the light of the wording, purpose and context of Article 135(1)(a) of the VAT Directive. The Court of Justice has clarified the concepts enacted in that provision to a large extent in its case law. Nevertheless, the approach of the Court, which has to balance the principle of neutrality on one hand, and the principle of strict interpretation of exemptions on the other, still leaves many interpretative doubts. The definition of insurance as formulated by the Court of Justice focuses on the nature of the service and raises questions as to the scope of its application to services which, although not constituting conventional insurance, share the functions and characteristics of such insurance. The case law of the Court of Justice as to the outsourcing of services by insurers and transfers of portfolios of (re)insurance has had a severe impact on how insurers can structure and restructure their businesses. In this chapter, after a brief presentation of the background for the current state of law, the case law of the Court of Justice as to the scope of the exemption for insurance in European VAT is analysed and critically assessed.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law (excluding Law and Society)


  • tax law, European tax law, European VAT, exemptions, insurance
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVAT and Financial Services
Subtitle of host publicationComparative Law and Economic Perspectives
EditorsRichard Krever, Robert F. van Brederode
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-10-3465-7
ISBN (Print)978-981-10-3463-3
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch