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Farkle Purchasing System
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in the US. Recently I was trying to order some stuff from a vendor based in the UK. Their Web shop stubbornly added VAT, even though I gave US shipping and billing addresses.

I have emailed them to ask how to order without paying VAT I do not owe. Having to pay UK VAT would make the deal unattractive. As far as I can determine, US customers simply do not owe UK/EU VAT for online purchases. Ideally, VAT would be automatically subtracted when ordering from an EU or UK-based vendor, given that the customer is outside those countries.

There is information all over the Web about getting VAT refunds for purchases made while visiting the EU, and there are even companies that facilitate the refundprocess for businesses. Much better to not be charged VAT in the first place.

Some EU vendors do get this right without drama. When I bought a luggage accessory from Italy-based Brixia Moto through eBay last year, I was correctly not charged VAT.

However, looking at the invoice today I realized that Heed (Poland) incorrectly charged me about US$40 of VAT on crash bars I purchased last year.

I asked Heed for a refund, but they are giving me the run around. Some nonsense to the effect that they "cannot" refund the VAT due to the shipping method. Even though I am clearly a US customer.

If you live in the US or otherwise outside the EU, have you had a problem with EU vendors incorrectly charging you their VAT? If so, what did you do about it?
 

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When they charge the vat from overseas customers i wounder if it goes into their pocket as they will not have to pay that to the Govt. They can add it to their taxable income so would only pay a small portion to the Tax man.

You could point this out to them and offer to write a letter to the tax man to make sure they are above board. if they do it to you they are doing it to every one else.

I don't know about the UK, but here if we claim GST, (our VAT), then it has to be passed on to the tax man in full. If i was not GST registered then it becomes income.
 

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I've had the same problem with UK vendors on ebay.

The Australian Tax Office did go overseas to big vendors to get them to collect GST (similar ro VAT) on sales to Australian customers. Not all vendors do that but it looks like ebay does using a company called Pitney Bowes when buying from the UK..
 

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Farkle Purchasing System
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, I think I've bought my last item from Heed. Unethical of them to not just charge VAT to a clearly non-EU customer, but then refuse to do anything when this is pointed out.

The bare minimum would be for them to point me at the relevant forms to apply for a VAT refund.

The VAT amount constitutes an unauthorized charge to my credit card. If it is not too late, I will be reporting it to my bank as such. I expect a charge-back in the amount of the VAT should catch Heed's attention.

FWIW here is Heed's reply of nonsensical excuse-making:

"Hello
If the product has been shipped by post parcel there is not necessary documents allowing to use 0% VAT rate. In such a situation the law obligates to use VAT rate as for local transaction. There is no chance for refund."
 

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I feel the need to correct posters above who suggest that the UK is part of the EU. It is not. As such any behaviour of the type mentioned above solely relates to the UK.

"The UK left the EU at the end of 31 January 2020 CET (11 p.m. GMT). This began a transition period that ended on 31 December 2020 CET (11 p.m. GMT)."

As such I would request that either the OP or Admin correct the heading of this post. Thank You.
 

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Farkle Purchasing System
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
No correction needed. I am aware of the UK's situation with regard to the EU.

The problem is the same with both. Vendors from the UK and EU seem to sometimes charge VAT to US and other non UK/EU customers. They shouldn't.
 

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I find the critique here a bit unfair.

I'm in the Netherlands and for me the process of ordering in the US is even more frustrating. A large amount of US-based webshops simply refuse to ship outside the US outright. But they only tell you at the end of the shipping process so that's shopping time wasted. (Hint: Configure your Google Ads so that they don't pop up for non-US customers if you don't ship to non-US addresses.) And even if they do ship internationally, they website is sometimes so US-centric that it's unusable from the outside. Example: Only listing a free 0800 number which is not usable from outside the US. Or only listing things like dimensions in imperial units, not in metric. And then I do speak English and a few other languages so I'm not hindered by crappy auto-translation.

Another issue is this. Like it or not, as soon as foreign goods enter the EU, VAT (and sometimes import duty) needs to be charged. But if a US company ships the goods without adding the VAT and passing it on to the EU authorities, the shipping company becomes responsible for collecting the VAT. They charge a fair amount of additional money for that service - I once paid 17.50 euros in handling fees on a 25 euro part that needed about 5 euro VAT added to it - and it adds to the shipping time. Sometimes they also change the shipping address from my home to some sort of - hopefully nearby - depot where I can then collect the package after paying the fee. So the most convenient way of ordering foreign goods is if the foreign website already adds the appropriate VAT and import duty during the checkout process, so no further handling by the shipping company is necessary. But only very, very few websites (think of the likes of AliExpress and Amazon) have that ability in the first place.

At least if VAT was charged inappropriately, you have a way of getting a refund if you wish and if it's worth your time. But a lot of US websites are completely unusable to me (no foreign shipping), or way too expensive once you factor in the shipping company handling charge. And that's a charge that I cannot get refunded.

As a consumer, I fully agree with you: Every website out there should support international orders from anywhere in the world. And every website should ask for the shipping address, and from there calculate the appropriate VAT plus import duty to be charged for each of the possible combinations of source, destination and type of goods. That website should then pass on that VAT and import duty on my behalf to the appropriate tax authorities. But as a realist I also know that this world has 200+ countries, so well over 40.000 combinations of VAT charge/refunds. If countries have multiple VAT rates, that number increases significantly. And if you then factor in the 1000s of categories of goods for import duty purposes, each category potentially having its own import duty percentage, in each of those counties, it quickly becomes a webmasters nightmare.
 

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I guess I have not had that experience. I purchased from Heed - but it was through ebay, so I paid the auction price and the shipping price on the auction and that was it.
Only UK transaction was also through ebay, same deal.
I buy a lot of stuff from Motostorm (Italy) and they have never charged VAT
I bought a few items from ABM (Germany) and they did not charge it
Helmet came from the Netherlands (ChampionHelmets.com?) and none there either.

I'm always happy that they want to ship here at all, because for some things it is way cheaper to buy in Europe, even with the much higher shipping costs (especially Kappa luggage)
 

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No correction needed. I am aware of the UK's situation with regard to the EU.

The problem is the same with both. Vendors from the UK and EU seem to sometimes charge VAT to US and other non UK/EU customers. They shouldn't.
There certainly is a correction required in that the UK is no longer part of the EU and in this instance a UK vendor is causing a problem.

Please also keep in mind that this is an international forum and not just about US membership.
 

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I find the critique here a bit unfair.

I'm in the Netherlands and for me the process of ordering in the US is even more frustrating. A large amount of US-based webshops simply refuse to ship outside the US outright. But they only tell you at the end of the shipping process so that's shopping time wasted. (Hint: Configure your Google Ads so that they don't pop up for non-US customers if you don't ship to non-US addresses.) And even if they do ship internationally, they website is sometimes so US-centric that it's unusable from the outside. Example: Only listing a free 0800 number which is not usable from outside the US. Or only listing things like dimensions in imperial units, not in metric. And then I do speak English and a few other languages so I'm not hindered by crappy auto-translation.
I also agree with this. It is too onerous to purchase direct from the US and for this reason I try to seek out EU agents for US made products.
 

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I also agree with this. It is too onerous to purchase direct from the US and for this reason I try to seek out EU agents for US made products.
Yeah, I'll say it - we're a little too lazy for the most part to try to figure out all the customs forms, material harmonization codes, tax rates. For the owner of an individual small business the EU is not a big enough market compared to the home market to deal with all the paper work. As an individual selling a few things on ebay/forums I shy away from shipping anything overseas (even canada is kind of a pain)
 

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Farkle Purchasing System
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
There certainly is a correction required in that the UK is no longer part of the EU and in this instance a UK vendor is causing a problem.

Please also keep in mind that this is an international forum and not just about US membership.
Literally no one here is saying that the UK is part of the EU.

It's a distinction without a difference in this case. I have had trouble with both EU and UK vendors either charging or trying to charge me VAT. Yes, I mentioned only the EU in the thread title because it's only an EU vendor who has so far incorrectly charged me VAT. I did not place an order with the UK vendor who was also trying to charge me UK VAT.

This may be an "international" forum, but I started this thread specifically to discuss a problem with other US customers. That is, the problem of overseas vendors charging us VAT we do not owe. This seems to be a problem chiefly with EU and UK vendors, based on my and others' experience. If you do not like this discussion, you are not obligated to participate.
 

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Literally no one here is saying that the UK is part of the EU.
The heading of Your thread together with Your first post is suggestive of this. Anyway I will argue the matter no further and in the interim I have referred it to Admin.
 

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Farkle Purchasing System
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The heading of Your thread together with Your first post is suggestive of this. Anyway I will argue the matter no further and in the interim I have referred it to Admin.
To you, maybe. No one else seems confused.

Reported to the admins? Freaking really, dude? Chill. Don't be surprised if the admins do nothing. Nothing needs be done, except maybe for you to relax a bit.

No one is attacking the EU, or the UK, as a whole, singly, or in any combination thereof.

I don't think it's "unfair" to point out that some merchants (regardless of location) are wrongly trying to charge US customers VAT they do not owe, when this does happen.

Also, one is allowed to have a US-centric discussion here on a given topic. That's all this is.

Again, if you don't like it, you don't have to be here. There are about a zillion other threads you can waste your time with.
 

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Farkle Purchasing System
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
FWIW, I did get a reply from that one vendor (airvest.co.uk) regarding erroneous VAT charges to US customers. He avoided the question by saying that he is "not allowed" to sell me Helite products because I live in the US.

The only reason I went to his shop was that the usual US Helite distributors are totally out of stock, and have no estimate on re-stock. I do not want to watch the entire fall go by as I wait for US Helite to get more product. Telling me I can't have an airbag vest because Helite wants to force me to buy from their US dealers, who do not have anything to sell me, is completely ridiculous.
 

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So don't buy from them. Whiney thread is whiney.
 

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I have purchased vintage BMW parts from Motobins in the UK now for years both before and after Brexit. I have also purchased from Wunderlich in Germany. These businesses never add VAT to overseas orders. I would not do business with an outfit that insisted on collecting a tax that was not due.
 

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Before everyone gets all upset...I will tell you that I am not at all happy with the UK. There, I made that clear. The UK.

I am supposed to collect VAT taxes on orders shipping to the UK ( I ship a good amount to the UK ).

To do this I am supposed to set up an account with the good people running the UK so I can send these fees at least every 3 months to them. Something like the IRS is to America. Yes, they want me to collect their taxes and send them over to them. My time, money to manage the account for nothing.

You can imagine what ole Terry thinks of this and how he handled it.....

So, the only reason I can and do still ship to the UK is that if your order totals over 175 ( pounds Sterling or whatever currency they go by over there now...) the Customs department will collect their own damned taxes. I guess lesser amounts are not worth their time...so they have the small business person do it all.

To be clear...other countries do NOT have this tax law. They feel happy enough, for the most part, to just screw over their citizens with a nice juicy Customs fee, VAT, or whatever they happen to call it. I have seen fees paid of over $200 on clutch baskets!

I cannot speak for UK vendors or other vendors. What I did was study the tax laws and learn what I can and cannot do. I will not now or ever collect taxes for international orders. But I am stubborn and prone to speaking what is on my mind....
 

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I'm curious....what remedy does the UK claim to be able to pursue against you if you refuse to collect VAT?
 
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