Revenue & Customs Brief 21 (2020): 'Withdrawal of the VAT Retail Export Scheme and the tax-free shopping concession' confirms the withdrawal of 'airside' tax-free shopping and the Retail Export Scheme on 1 January 2021. 

Tax-free shopping

  • Extra statutory concession 9.1, published in VAT Notice 48, allows retailers of goods sold in ports and airports to zero-rate sales to passengers departing for non-EU destinations by treating the retailer as exporting the goods. 
  • This concession will be withdrawn from 1 January 2021.  

VAT Retail Export Scheme (RES)

  • The VAT RES allows non-EU visitors to the EU to recover VAT on high-street purchases which leave the EU. 
  • This Scheme will be withdrawn in Great Britain. 
    • Purchases made in Great Britain using VAT RES on or before 31 December 2020 remain eligible for refund where visitors leave the UK after 31 December 2020. 
  • Under the Nothern Ireland Protocol, retailers in Nothern Ireland (including those at ports and airports) will continue to be able to offer the VAT RES to non-EU visitors to Nothern Ireland. 
    • Special rules apply where goods are purchased in Northern Ireland on or after 1 January 2021 that are taken to Great Britain. 

External link

Revenue and Customs Brief 21 (2020): withdrawal of the VAT Retail Export Scheme and the tax-free shopping concession

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