HM Revenue and Customs Brief 17/14- VAT Retail Export Scheme
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Issued 14 April 2014
This brief updates stakeholders on the progress of HMRC's
review of the VAT Retail Export Scheme and sets out the next steps.
Who needs to read this?
Retailers, VAT refund companies and other individuals or
bodies with an interest in the VAT Retail Export Scheme.
The VAT Retail Export Scheme - also known as Tax Free Shopping
- allows visitors from outside the European Union (EU) to claim a
refund of VAT on goods they buy and export from the EU in their
It was announced at Budget 2013 that HMRC would review the
scheme, with the key objectives of improving the customer experience
and protecting VAT revenue. A formal consultation ran from 1 July to 30
In its response to the consultation, the Government
acknowledged that a digital solution is the leading option for change
and committed to continue exploring options for a digital solution. The
Government is clear that to ensure value for money to the UK taxpayer,
implementing a digital solution will be dependent on a strong business
case and finding an acceptable means of funding.
Alongside this commitment, HMRC announced plans to work
closely with stakeholders to bring about key improvements to the scheme
in the interim.
Next steps on the digital solution
HMRC has continued to work on the detailed responses from the
formal consultation and has analysed proposals for a wide range of
possible digital solutions. This valuable information is helping to
develop the case for a digital solution.
Since the consultation closed, HMRC has continued to be
contacted by companies interested in developing a digital solution.
Although these contributions were received too late to feature in the
consultation response document, there will be an opportunity for these
companies to participate in the review going forward. Interested
parties can email email@example.com to be included as
HMRC is currently looking carefully at digital systems in
operation in some other EU Member States. This will ensure that we
benefit from the experience of, and learn lessons from, our EU
colleagues. It will help us determine whether any aspects of those
systems might be suitable for the UK.
As this work develops, HMRC will look to determine a number of
high-level business - or system - requirements for a digital Retail
Export Scheme in the UK. This work will inform whether there is a case
for a Market Engagement Exercise where HMRC would invite suppliers to
participate in a forum to gain their views on our requirements and
possible delivery options.
As stated in the response document, the key to delivering any
digital solution will be finding an approach that guarantees value for
money for the UK taxpayer supported by an acceptable means of funding
Improving the customer experience and protecting revenue
In April, HMRC will contact stakeholders to consider possible
changes in the following areas:
- claim form: HMRC will look to
simplify and standardise claim forms and also consider possible changes
to the declaration and whether parts of the form could be completed
away from the retailers premises
- identification: accepting
alternative identification from overseas visitors
- processes and signage:
improving these at airports and ports
- HMRC guidance: amendments to
ensure it is up-to-date and accurate
To ensure certainty for businesses, HMRC aims to negotiate and
announce the forthcoming changes with stakeholder groups before the
busy summer period. To allow businesses time to make any necessary
systems changes (for example, to the layout of the claim forms), some
changes will take effect after the summer and by October 2014.
Meeting with stakeholders
As part of the consultation, HMRC established three
Stakeholder Interest Groups representing each of the main sectors using
the Retail Export Scheme. These are retailers, refund companies and
overseas visitors. HMRC will invite the participants of these groups to
the next Open Forum session in May. The Forum will provide an update on
the review, covering work on both the interim changes and the scoping
of a digital solution, and there will be a Q&A session.
Interested parties can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be
included as a stakeholder.
About the Author
© Crown Copyright 2014.
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for educational / informational purposes only. Article reproduced by
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2014-04-22 13:00:00 in Tax Articles