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VAT in the UK

What is VAT?

Taxes are one of the major income sources for any government to obtain funds for public welfare, maintenance and running various schemes. Government imposes taxes on nearly anything and everything we do. Right from buying products to getting salaries, there are various types of taxes that are applied in the UK. However, one of the most common and one that you will most definitely pay at some time or another is VAT.

VAT stands for Value Added Tax. It is a tax imposed on the amount of value added to a product. The very idea of VAT taxation is to eliminate the cascading effect of taxation. VAT has a standard tax rates in the UK but rates may vary from one product type to another. The current standard rate in UK is 20% which was earlier 17.5% but increased in the year 2011. Every manufacturer, retailer comes under VAT and it is an indirect tax which is collected by them and then ultimately paid to the government after accessing their dues.

According to the European Union, both customers and manufacturers have to pay VAT. Manufacturers pay it for the components which they purchase in order to produce goods. While consumers generally pay it for the services that are rendered to them. For example, VAT being charged by a restaurant.

When VAT is to be paid?

VAT return has to be filed in the same calendar month -1 and within one week of the accounting period by all the businesses. According to VAT advice, you need to send your VAT return within the prescribed time period to avoid penalties. VAT returns are self assessed and one week’s time is given after accounting period for self assessment to be exercised.

Every VAT filling individual has HMRC Account (HM Revenue & Customs). On logging in to the account, details regarding due date and payment status can be checked. Moreover, the account also sends timely notifications regarding an approaching return to be fulfilled.

VAT for Migrants & Tourists

UK is a popular tourist hotspot and every year the footfall increases with more and more people coming to explore the country. They roam around the cities, make purchases, make use of services and this way they end up paying VAT on most of the things. There are certain shops in UK where some migrants can do TAX FREE SHOPPING. This comes under the VAT Retail Export Scheme by the UK government. The HMRC Notice 704/1 defines the people who are eligible for reclaiming your VAT paid during the tenure of your stay or purchases in the United Kingdom.

migrants and VAT can be a little troublesome for many. Though, they need to be a little careful when it comes to reclaiming VAT returns. Proper knowledge of the rules is a must and this is why most prefer to hire professional agents/businesses to help them in reclaiming their money spent on VAT>

There are certain scam schemes being run which claim or promise an individual to get claim for their VAT. These are some refund scams to avoid as they will not only waste your valuable time but also charge fee from you in advance and won’t get the desired result. Here are tips on choosing an agent/agency for reclaiming VAT.

• Know the rules

HMRC has clearly stated the rules regarding the Retail Export Scheme (RES) or the Tax Free Shopping Scheme on their website. It is accessible under the notice 704/1. So the first thing is to check whether you are really eligible as per law to file for reclamation. It is useless to file it if you are not on the list of the eligible or do not meet the criteria.

• Do a background check

If an agent or agency has got in touch with you with a promise to get you VAT refund, it is better good to do a background check. Google a little about their business, see their official website, see if they are on Social Media too or not! Good organizations will be having plenty of information about them online as compared with fraudsters.

• Make a personal visit

If the background check hasn’t been satisfactory, you can visit their office to have a word. A fraud will hesitate to meet up as compared to meeting a genuine business running and helping people reclaim their VAT.

• Ask friends/relatives

If any of your relatives/friends has visited EU before or done a VAT reclaim then take their help. They can guide you as well as land you in the hands of a trustworthy agent to consult regarding the same.

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