October 1, 2013

vat refund entitlement

vat refunds! hands up to those who've heard of it and have claimed for their refund. or those who have heard of it before but never bothered to claim their tax refunds. LOL. let's talk about the VAT in UK, shall we?

VAT refunds

vat: tax on the purchase price, currently at 20% since January 2011
(minus food and children's clothing to name some)

tax-free shopping: refers to the opportunity for customers to purchase goods or services without paying any tax, usually for people who do not reside in the EU, in other words: mainly tourists.

regulations: minimum amount spent and types of products on which it can be claimed. a handling fee may be charged by the service provider (so you won't really get back your 20% in full). must leave the EU within three months from purchase of item. applicable only for personal purchases.

vat forms are only available at the retailer. no vat form = no refund. vat claims must be stamped at UK customs before you can even obtain your refund. roughly here's the steps you need to follow in order for you to claim your refund:

1. choose a shop that operates the VAT Retail Export Scheme. if you want to know if a particular store is participating in the scheme, look for a Tax Free Shopping sign. it's a voluntary scheme and not all shops operate it, so you need to check before you buy anything so that you won't feel cheated later on. take Kiddicare for example, they don't participate in the scheme, boo.

receipt already issued a VAT form

2. after you've gone on your shopping spree, you need to hand in your receipts to the retailer (receipts can be accumulated, different stores have a different minimum amount you need to spend before you can claim VAT) and you need one of the following documents from the store:
- a VAT 407 form
- a shop or refund company's own version of form VAT 407
- a VAT Retail Export Scheme sales invoice

from what i can recall:
- victoria's secret - min £30
- disney = min £75
- selfridges = min £50
- others = min roughly £50

3. the retailer will ask to see evidence that you are eligible to use the scheme, such as your passport. however some are too busy to even bother to check anything, they'll just simply press a bunch of buttons into a machine and a looOoOoOOng piece of paper will come streaming out. that's the vat form. some will use the old-school form (the one that uses carbon) and they'll manually fill up the details and calculate the amount for you. but one thing they will always ask you to do is to sign the form in front of them. and they'll ask you to fill up the details required in the form on your own later: name, passport#, permanent address, how you'd like to receive your refund, etc.

4. you must show your goods, receipts and your refund form to UK customs staff at the airport you're leaving from, i.e if you're leaving from terminal 3 you can claim your refund ONLY at terminal 3. make sure you arrive at the airport early so that you have plenty of time to deal with the customs staff before your departure. seriously this is an understatement. the staff at Pandora told me i'd be spending at least 2 hours waiting in line, and he was quite right. i stood in line for more than an hour. the line was sooo long, you have to come here early else you'll miss your flight. there were some people who had to leave the queue because their flight was about to depart. one thing about this vat refund claim is, you can only claim your refund on the day that you fly off, not before.

5. make sure you have everything filled up and your passport ready, there will be a customs officer hustling people to close the gaps in the line and checking everyone's forms to ensure that everything has been filled up for a smoother transaction. all forms must be removed from their envelopes. also, be sure that the items you are claiming VAT for are with you, else you'll be denied your refund. this means don't check-in before claiming your refund! another option would be to claim for your refund after checking in, provided that you are able to hand carry your goods onto the plane. which i think is ridiculous unless you are only claiming for one of those expensive LV bags or whatnot. when it was finally my turn there was only 1.5 hours left before my flight departure. the customs officer didn't ask to see my purchases though, but he did ask me what time i was due to fly off. probably because it was already past 7.30pm, people were already mood-less by then. haha. there were about 7 customs officer behind counters processing our requests. tu pun line slow gila @_@.

6. there is a charge to cover the cost of handling your refund, which is already shown on your refund form. the more you spend, the more refund you will get. you can choose to receive your refund via cash, cheque, or refund back into your credit card (regardless of how you paid for your goods). a fee would be imposed if you choose to receive your refund in cash form, other forms of refund are free. some people might say it's a waste of time to claim refund for a small amount, but with the increasing GBP against the MYR, even a few pounds is worth alot, bahahahahah.

muka menyampah tunggu lama sangat dalam Q

i barely made my flight. after the VAT episode, i had very little time to drop off my bags at the check-in counter (check-in closes at 8pm, it was already 1945), and made it by a hairline past immigration to reach the gates just 10 minutes before closing (2030). my check-in luggage were slightly overweight (i checked in the freaking-heavy stroller!), but the staff was a real gem for letting it go through =). anyway, immigration screening was a PITA, every single form of liquid in your hand carry MUST be sorted in Ziploc bags (my outbound flight to London was quite lax on this) and you had to take certain articles of clothing off - jacket, shoes, belt and have them go through the scanner. even then if they screen your bags and find something unusual, you'll be spending a good many more minutes there while they rustle through your stuff @_@. i was lucky after a seemingly long wait my bags emerged from the conveyer belt unharmed, phew. i didn't even have time to browse through the terminals, i simply ran past everything to gate 29 gahhhh in heels lagi @_@. i didn't even have time to pump before boarding!!! @_@

this time, i didn't miss my connecting flight. bahahahahah.

so conclusion? go earlyyyyyyyy! if you want to claim your tax rights. hahaha. sekian, terima kasih.

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