If you do business in Europe, you should be aware that you are entitled to reclaim the VAT charged on certain services you incur. These services include employee travel and relocation costs, exhibition and marketing costs, telephone and communication charges, and the costs involved in running representative offices. The problem is that reclaiming this VAT can be a frustrating experience owing to bureaucratic hurdles and language problems. Fortunately, you can put the whole affair into the hands of a specialist firm that can take care of the whole procedure for you.
Here are some great reasons you should entrust your VAT refund job to a specialist firm. Firstly, reclaiming VAT is an onerous and time-consuming process. There are language difficulties and each country has its own system and policies. A specialist firm has the expertise and experience to deal with each country. Consider what each application entails. Firstly, you need to prepare applications in accordance with the VAT refund law of the relevant country.
These generally have to be in the primary language of the country. These applications then need to be filed to the right department and at the right time. The VAT refund procedure then needs to be monitored and perhaps followed-up to ensure the application is going through the system. Perhaps there'll be queries from the involved departments. These, of course, will be made in the language of the country involved. And possibly appeals will have to be made or extra documents submitted.
Also, a specialist firm will have the expertise and experience in VAT reclamation to get the maximum refund possible. These sums can be substantial. While VAT is meant to be a tax imposed on final consumers, it can prove a burden to firms who don't reclaim their foreign VAT.
This burden can comprise up to 20% of their foreign costs depending on the VAT rates in the country they operate. For example, recoverable VAT makes up 19.6% in France, 17.5% in the UK and 19% in Germany. Another advantage of employing a specialist firm to process you foreign VAT refunds is that you don't need to utilise any of your own staff or facilities.
This allows your staff to work totally on tasks that are profitable for your company. So if you've decided to look into getting a VAT refund, first check you can do it in time. If you plan to make a claim, you need to do it within 6 months from the end of the year in which the expense was incurred. Belgium and The Netherlands are exceptions. In these countries, claims can go back as far as three and five years respectively. Then look for a firm with a proven track record in getting VAT refunds to handle the whole procedure for you.
Reputable companies operate on a 'No Vat Refund - No Fee' basis. Generally, you just have supply the original invoice for the firm to get to work. Then just get on with your business and wait for your VAT refund to arrive.
Leslie Gilmour is working with Global VAT Reclaim, an Irish based company that reclaims Vat (VAT rebate), when the VAT is paid for services or goods by Companies or Institutions outside their own country, catering for both small and large VAT reclaims.