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Claiming back VAT

Claiming back VAT

Old Dec 21st 2016, 3:13 pm
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Default Claiming back VAT

My wife and I are permanent US residents (green card holders) and going back to the UK for Christmas.

We are looking at possibly making an expensive jewelry purchase whilst in the UK. Would we be entitled to claim the VAT back as we leave to come back to the US?

I am assuming we could and the fact that we pay tax in the UK on the property rent out doesn't affect this.

However - does the process of claiming back the VAT flag you when coming in to the US so we would have to pay import duty?
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Old Dec 21st 2016, 3:36 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Originally Posted by H Bomb View Post
My wife and I are permanent US residents (green card holders) and going back to the UK for Christmas.

We are looking at possibly making an expensive jewelry purchase whilst in the UK. Would we be entitled to claim the VAT back as we leave to come back to the US?

I am assuming we could and the fact that we pay tax in the UK on the property rent out doesn't affect this.

However - does the process of claiming back the VAT flag you when coming in to the US so we would have to pay import duty?
It depends where you buy it. There are only a few major retailers who are part of the VAT refund scheme.

Google is your friend...

https://www.travelex.co.uk/services/vat-refunds
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Old Dec 21st 2016, 3:38 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Ah - I didn't realize that. Shall try and find a list of who participates.

But assuming we go with an authorized retailer we should be good?
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Old Dec 21st 2016, 3:41 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Originally Posted by H Bomb View Post
Ah - I didn't realize that. Shall try and find a list of who participates.

But assuming we go with an authorized retailer we should be good?
You should be.

BTW...Don't forget to declare the jewellery to US Customs when you enter the US.
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Old Dec 21st 2016, 4:26 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Originally Posted by H Bomb View Post
However - does the process of claiming back the VAT flag you when coming in to the US so we would have to pay import duty?
You may be required to pay import duty anyway... since, AFAIK, personal items are exempt only if you've owned them for one year or more.

Ian
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Old Dec 21st 2016, 4:37 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Originally Posted by ian-mstm View Post
You may be required to pay import duty anyway... since, AFAIK, personal items are exempt only if you've owned them for one year or more.

Ian
Yup...whether VAT has been paid or not...if the value of goods exceeds the US personal allowance import duty is liable.
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Old Dec 21st 2016, 5:28 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Originally Posted by Jerseygirl View Post
You should be.
Practicality of doing so might also depend on the airport you're flying out of. Some make it easier than others.

Usually have to have the thing with you, so you can't check it in. For jewellery, should be okay on that front though.
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Old Dec 21st 2016, 6:26 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Read the fine print on the VAT refund service offered by a retailer as they may have a service charge for doing it and you may only end up with say 12% actually refunded.
The maximum value of goods you can import by yourself as an informal entry is $2500, after this you will need a customs broker.
On a recent new purchase duty will be charged.
Watches are automatically a formal entry.
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Old Dec 21st 2016, 6:34 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Obviously we would have to pay duty to US customs.

However out of general curiosity - would they know we had claimed back VAT on a purchase we made while in the UK?

I know in general US and UK do not speak to each other on tax related matters - but this seems like something where they could easily coordinate.
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Old Dec 22nd 2016, 12:11 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Originally Posted by H Bomb View Post
Obviously we would have to pay duty to US customs.

However out of general curiosity - would they know we had claimed back VAT on a purchase we made while in the UK?

I know in general US and UK do not speak to each other on tax related matters - but this seems like something where they could easily coordinate.
Out of curiosity, why does it matter? The rules and processes for bringing a piece back to the US remain the same, whether you paid VAT or not.
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Old Dec 22nd 2016, 2:40 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Originally Posted by celticgrid View Post
Out of curiosity, why does it matter? The rules and processes for bringing a piece back to the US remain the same, whether you paid VAT or not.
I guess I am just inquisitive!
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Old Dec 22nd 2016, 3:58 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Originally Posted by H Bomb View Post
I guess I am just inquisitive!
Well here's my view. They don't share the information. The question is why you think they care enough to want to share the information? It quite simply does not matter.

I regularly order goods from the UK and get the company to remove the inbuilt VAT element. No big deal. Is that data shared with the US? Not a chance.
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Old Dec 23rd 2016, 12:46 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

I've done VAT refunds multiple times in the past, but not for many years. I also handled most of the initial VAT paperwork for a store I used to work at in the UK. It's pretty straightforward but, unless it's changed, you may want to get to the airport earlier than anticipated to stop by the office that handles three return.

In years gone by the store would fill out the form, you would turn out in at the airport and possibly have the goods inspected, the government would send the paperwork back to the store and they would issue the refund.
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Old Dec 23rd 2016, 1:31 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

Originally Posted by Duncan Roberts View Post
I've done VAT refunds multiple times in the past, but not for many years. I also handled most of the initial VAT paperwork for a store I used to work at in the UK. It's pretty straightforward but, unless it's changed, you may want to get to the airport earlier than anticipated to stop by the office that handles three return.

In years gone by the store would fill out the form, you would turn out in at the airport and possibly have the goods inspected, the government would send the paperwork back to the store and they would issue the refund.
I did one a few months ago in Germany. Rules could easily be different between countries, but the process was almost exactly as you described apart from the stamped form was handed back to me to send to the store.
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Old Dec 23rd 2016, 5:09 pm
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Default Re: Claiming back VAT

I used to claim VAT back at Manchester Airport. As my flight always departed mid morning the VAT office was closed when I arrived. I left the envelope containing the relevant forms and receipts in the box on the door.

IMO unless you have spent a lot of dosh...not just a few hundred pounds...it's not worth the hassle.

Last edited by Jerseygirl; Dec 24th 2016 at 2:57 am.
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