When you subscribe we are required BY LAW to verify that your VAT number is valid and registered in the European Union's VIES system. The only legally acceptable way to do this verification is through the European Union's VIES web service. This web service queries the national database (in your case Germany's database) and returns to us a result saying if your VAT is VIES registered, if it's not VIES registered, if it's an invalid VAT number or if there was a problem in the EU VIES system or the national database preventing the query from going forward. In all but the first case we are required BY LAW to charge you VAT. In fact, we show you that you are going to be charged VAT, the VAT rate and the VAT amount before you subscribe.
We cannot issue a credit note on the VAT tax. It's illegal to do so. Therefore, we cannot issue a refund for 5.32 Euro.
However, this is NOT money we keep. This money is sent in its entirety to the German tax authorities through the European Union's VAT Mini One-Stop Shop (VIES MOSS) process. As a result you can file this invoice to the German tax authorities and have the German VAT amount charged deducted from the VAT amount you will be paying.
I know this is complicated and stupid but you're barking up the wrong tree. We just have to follow the law, no matter how complicated or counter-intuitive it is. It's not just us. Any company selling services over the Internet to EU businesses follows the exact same laws. EU VIES system failures are rare but not impossible. When that happens everyone selling services over the Internet to EU businesses will charge you VAT because doing otherwise is problematic: if it turns out that you were liable for VAT and no VAT was charged the invoice is proof of tax evasion and punishable as such.
Once again, I am sorry that the European Union or Germany screwed up but we have to follow the law :/
Nicholas K. Dionysopoulos
Lead Developer and Director