back to article moves to close VAT loophole on etailers

The UK government is planning to close the loophole in tax law that was allowing online retailers to funnel goods through the Channel Islands and thereby evade import VAT. The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke told the Commons yesterday that there would be further reforms to the relief from import VAT known as …


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  1. Citizen Kaned

    oh well...

    i guess wont be as good any more eh? :(

  2. Oor Nonny-Muss

    Right... so...

    that's closed the Channel Isles, but places like Hong Kong are still open - where say CDWow are... typically with slightly better prices than the CI-based places (for now at least)

    1. JohnMurray

      Plus import tax.

      And vat.

  3. rpjs

    Isn't it about time

    That we ended the medieval hangover which is the Crown Dependencies and just annex them to the UK as county councils?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No chance. That would mean the "individuals of high net wealth" who live there would have to be subject to the same tax regime as the rest of the UK.

      Austerity for the 99%.

      Megabonuses for the 1%.

  4. GrumpyJoe
    Thumb Down

    Not so cheap anyway

    I checked out the MW3 price - it was cheaper in Asda on launch day.

    1. Citizen Kaned

      as the article said.....

      on stuff below £15.

      the supermarkets are often the cheapest place to get stuff but it usually needs to be on day1 as the price soon shoots up.

    2. Matt Siddall

      If MW3 were under £15, then you might have a point

  5. Zog The Undeniable

    The Channel Islands have two big advantages over other non-EU bases: they use the Great British Quid and postage is cheap. Anywhere else (Switzerland, for instance) has exchange rate risk and more expensive postage, 'cos it's further.

    It was a funny little loophole but I don't think this is going to be popular with anyone except the handful of remaining record shops in the UK. will probably survive OK as it's already diversified into items of well over £15 but I'm not sure about places like 7dayshop, which mainly sells small stuff. MX2 went under years ago.

    Maybe the Government could look at taxing companies based in Jersey properly, like the one that's just taken over an NHS hospital. That would never do, though, because one of their mates is on the board.

  6. HP Cynic

    CDs are £7.99 or so from CD-Wow and BangCD etc, no idea why anyone would buy from the various Channel Island warehouses let alone the high street. If they find a way to stop the eastern import market I'll simply not buy any more CDs, HMV and the other high street shops took the absolute piss before the online markets swelled.

    I get practically everything else from Amazon, Game or

    I stopped shopping at Play when they tried to use their "Non UK" status to avoid replacing faulty goods. I got Trading Standards to sort them out that time but lost all faith in them after that.

    In any case VAT in this country is way too high, having no VAT and practically no income tax is part of the reason Hong Kong and other eastern markets boomed are still booming.

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      The question has been asked many times on the register, but why would anybody buy a CD online in the first place? The only people who I would have thought had a reason to buy CDs are people who aren't part of the digital world. Even my old folks don't have a CD player anymore.

      1. Anonymous Cowerd

        @Grease Monkey

        The reason for buying a CD is simple - I want to own the physical product, so that I can do what I want with it - even resell it if I like.

        I find it online (without having to traipse to a shop and find it's not in stock), then after a maximum 30 second transaction, I get it conveniently posted to my front door.

        Why does your tiny brain struggle to comprehend the convenience of that simple process?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Also @Greasemonkey

          "The question has been asked many times on the register, but why would anybody buy a CD online in the first place? The only people who I would have thought had a reason to buy CDs are people who aren't part of the digital world. Even my old folks don't have a CD player anymore."

          The question has been asked many times, but why would anybody buy an overcompressed and lossy mp3 track as a digital download in the first place? The only people who I would have thought had a reason to buy mp3 tracks are pretentious people who have bought into the hype and think they are part of the "digital world", but who are unwitting mugs in being sold lower quality tripe and then having to pay for a cd as well if they want a proper recording. Either that or they can't hear the difference, and a lot can't, in which case carry on as you were, but don't leap to judge others for wanting a proper recording for their hard earned.

  7. ph0b0s

    Would be more impressed...

    ....if they were also closing tax loopholes that did not directly affect the consumer in a negative way. Just at a time when you wouldn't want to discourage consumer spending, this seems a bit draft. Is it fair and just to close this loophole, of course. The question is, is it right to close this loophole? I think it isn't at the moment while overlooking all the other tax loopholes.

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      Closing any tax loophole will adversely affect consumers. Any company that's paying more tax will pass on those increases to the consumer. Even if it's a B2B company then their prices will go up and their customers will pass on the price increase to Joe Public.

      And what about all those rich company owners and the like avoiding taxes? If they have to pay more tax then they will increase their emoluments to cover the shortfall and their companies will pass on that increase to their customers.

      When it comes down to it, it's always the little guy who pays the tax one way or another.

      1. ph0b0s

        That's why I said 'directly affect the consumer'. Obviously all loopholes closed on corporations will be passed on to the consumer, in some form. This though is direct, with the government increasing the purchase price of a product from one of these retailer,s to the consumer, by 20%. This has no effect on the retailer as all this increase goes to government. The only group directly losing out is the consumer, as the government have directly made purchases more expensive.

        Also it is not big business normally buying from these retailers, who will get hit by the increases, but purchases for personal use by the general public.

        1. Number6

          Not Me

          It won't affect me much, the number of CDs or DVDs I buy each year is tiny so I'll probably be down at most a pound or two, which is much less than the cost for me to go visit a shop. I prefer to have the physical product, for reasons others have mentioned, so it's not that I'm just downloading the stuff.

  8. Tom Wood
    Thumb Down

    So closing this tax avoidance loophole will cost each of us a few quid a year in VAT

    but all the fuss about this will distract us from the million-pound tax avoidance schemes that the super-rich have got going.

  9. Blue eyed boy

    So what happens to

    arm's length "dependencies" of other EU countries which are themselves outside the EU e.g. the Canary Islands? Any other little territories like this? The Faroe Islands? Maderia? Heligoland? Ceuta and Melilla? Aland?)

  10. Brad Ackerman

    Closing their eyes and humming real loud

    The record stores in the UK are going out of business because they have crap hours. Supermarkets are open when the customers actually want to shop (excepting most of Sundays in England and Wales, but that's not their fault); CDs will happily fit through a mailbox slot without needing to deal with a Parcelfarce depot; but record stores still haven't noticed that trading hours were deregulated.

    So do I go through contortions to make my schedule fit the retailer's, or do I choose vendors who actually want my money? Not a hard choice at all.

  11. Andrew Baines Silver badge


    Do they still make them?

  12. Da Weezil

    Ok I will just wait longer and buy used through ebay... The Westminster shysters get too much tax from me as it is.. Im way too small to get a tax break from out wealthy overlords

  13. markieuk

    Fantastic - At long Last!

    should of being stopped years ago! - well done!!!

    Along with the millions that it has cost the UK GOV, how many jobs has this cost the UK?

    I sell on ebay and Amazon and found it very unfair! - I am matching prices with 7Dayshop, Amazon via IndigoStarfish, they dont pay vat but i have sell the goods at the same price and then pay vat, basically loseing 20% profit, most of the time leaving 5% for myself!

    This move is good the the economy, good for the UK Jobs market and good for uk resellers!

    I dont see why people are complaining on here about it - they buy stuff they should pay vat like everyone else!

    Roll on 1st April!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You don't see why people are complaining?

      Come the 1st April, you soon will.

      All that will happen is people will buy less stuff. This change will not give them any more disposable cash than they already have, so they will be able to afford less purchases for the same money.

      You will soon find that this will not increase your sales one iota.

  14. Stratman

    Great. They've stemmed the £100M leak in VAT avoidance.

    Now how about going after a certain airtime provider, who avoided £6 billion in tax by virtue of having an accommodation address in Lichtenstein.

  15. The Axe

    @Stratman, go do some research rather than listen to people who tell you lies.

    Private Eye have pretty much admitted that their figure of £6bn was based on falsehoods. They started with a certain assumption and then ignoring a change in law due to Boots' situation and assumed that Vodafone would be liable for all the time.

    HMRC made a deal because they knew they would lose at the final court, the same way they had lost through 3 previous courts. The only reason Vodafone capitulated was because the final court said that so long as the EU company wasn't set up for *purely* tax purposes then no tax is due. Vodafone would have to show that and they probably didn't want to have the government going through their records.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      why should anybody listen to you

      when you don't even have the brains to click "Reply to this post" in order to reply to a post?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Reply to this post.

        Why should anyone listen to you when you don't even have the brains to put a capital letter at the start of the subject when you reply to a post?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Your final paragraph makes no sense

      Even if the £6bn figure is way of the mark, Vodafone themselves had a provision in their accounts for a potential bill of around £2bn - still way below the £600m they ended up paying.

      You final paragraph also makes no sense. You say HMRC would have lost yet then say the final court would have only let Voda win if they [Voda] could prove the [obviously setup to avoid tax - a blind man in a blizzard could see that] company and Voda "graciously" capitulated as they didn't want HMRC going through their books.

      This is EXACTLY the reason why HMRC should have gone to court - they sold the taxpayers of this country very short.

  16. JaitcH

    Why has this taken so long?

    Why is not possible to simply say flowers and other flora are exempt from tax rather than right across the spectrum?

    It seems that taxes can be finitely applied or, in the case of Cameron's wealthy friends, not applied.

    Amazon and tax are like insurance adjusters, if there's a way out (of paying a claim), they will find it!

  17. Trevor Marron

    They could always just leave the VAT exemption as it was.....

    They could always just leave the VAT exemption as it was, and chase down Bernie Ecclestone instead!

    1. KroSha

      It's a "target-rich environment". As well as Bernie, they can add Phillip Green and Arcadia, Fortnum & Mason, HSBC and a whole raft of other wealthy individuals who work and earn in the UK (primarily The City) but "live" or "are headquartered" in the Channel Isles, Monaco, Luxembourg,etc.

      Money earned in a country should be taxed in that country.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "do some research rather than listen to people who tell you lies."

    You do realise that it's not just Private Eye behind this do you?

    Speaking of lies, did readers know that the taxman who agreed the £8bn Vodafone deal (and the £10m Goldman Sachs deal, and...) appeared before the Public Accounts Committee a few days ago, and the Committee were so worried about his veracity (look it up) that he had to deliver his evidence on oath, a move which hasn't been considered necessary since Neil Hamilton's day.


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Screw the public....

    What about closing the massive corporate tax loopholes certain firms have used in recent years. Ones where the CEO of said firms have "agreements" with HMRC directly...

    Nope - go after the public instead - easy targets - after all the public don't want to listen to cheap CD's/DVD's play games to take their minds away from the mess of government finances and the now risen costs of non-luxury items such as food. We just want to bend over and take it (after all the government and treasury clearly know how they want to spend our money)*

    *might contain a slight hint of sarcasm

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