homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from
register, free tools, login, search, pro membership, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Become a Pro Member

Home / Forums Index / WebmasterWorld / Ecommerce
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: buckworks

Ecommerce Forum

How does the store located outside of the European Union deal with VAT

 3:18 am on Dec 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone,

I am not sure whether it's an appropriate place to ask this question. If this is the case please point me to the right direction.

Here is the situation: I am trying to change my payment processor company. The current one is located in USA. Does not take VAT as far as I know from european customers.

Now I have a choice between two companies: one in USA and the other in Great Britain. Both take VAT.

As I understand the store is required to charge VAT for customers from the European Union.

Please explain: How does the store that is located outside of the European Union deal with this VAT? I mean how the international company pays/returns this accumulated VAT. I don't understand.

I thought that if the company has an office in the the European Union then it charges VAT. Otherwise, it doesn't.
That's why I am thinking about working with the United States company because, as I thought, VAT is not charged. But now I am confused.

Your help is sincerely appreciated.
Thank you,



 7:46 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Being located outside europe, we really have no way to deal with VAT, so we make it clear to our international customers that taxes and duties are not included and they may have to pay those charges via customs at time of delivery.


 3:43 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your answer.

We deal with electronically distributed software, so there is no physical delivery.

I incline towards the online store that is located in the USA. They have an office only in the USA. So for me it is strange that they take VAT. I will definitely make a call and ask about this situation.

Does anyone know how they can prove that they actually report the accumulated VAT and don't just accumulate it :o)



 11:03 am on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)


I wonder if just accumulating it is what they really do, especially if the goods are delivered online. What country can really keep track of that. Sounds like a "profit pumping" method to me.


 11:56 am on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Does this help?



 5:00 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks very much for the response.

It looks like this VAT On e-Services is a pain: declarations 4 times a year, transfer of the accumulated amount + looks like bussines organizations are charged VAT and then they have to send a request to get their 17.5% back.



 5:18 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, I think that is pretty much how it works for most businesses in EU-countries. You might be able to do your VAT-returns just once a year after one year, though.

Is your business originally located in the US, the UK or somwhere else? I'm a bit confused about that aspect!


 5:45 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you're located outside of the US and you only sell electronically delivered software, then I would say to just forget about the VAT. Go with the payment processor who doesn't force you to charge it and forget about it. There is no way they can touch you. You'll also have a built in price advantage for all your European customers.


 10:59 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you're located outside of the US and you only sell electronically delivered software, then I would say to just forget about the VAT. Go with the payment processor who doesn't force you to charge it and forget about it. There is no way they can touch you. You'll also have a built in price advantage for all your European customers.

That's what I am thinking about. From one side, I don't want to "play" with those guys and want to follow rules.

From the other hand, I don't understand how they are going to control it. + practically 17.5% discount for EU customers is an advantage.



 11:46 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

It was kind of lame for them to pass this law in the first place, because they have no jurisdiction over US companies and the law itself is nearly impossible to enforce.

It's kind of like the Use Tax here in the US. If you don't get charged sales tax for something, at the end of the year you are supposed to total everything up, calculate the tax yourself, and then advise the state of how much you owe and send your payment. Not many people actually do all of that and there is really no way for the state to enforce it either.


 4:05 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks everyone.

While reading the thread I came up with one more question:

Many of our clients are companies. So they, as far as I understand, pay the VAT but then claim it back.

As a person who lives outside of EU I have no knowledge of the accounting in EU. My question is if the company buys an e-service and does not pay VAT, could it have any problems when it gives an account at the end of the financial year? Something like: "Why didn't you pay VAT here and there?"



 5:09 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)


The way it - roughly - works over here in Denmark (and I guess most other EU-contries will have a similar structure) is that you (your company) are equired to keep records of everything you buy and sell incl receipts, invoices etc. An accountant (or yourself) will do your tax and VAT-returns etc. Although the tax and VAT authorities will not check all companies, they will pick some companies every year (I don't know how many) who will be thoroughly investigated. These companies are picked at random but also if they look suspicious, ie they buy more than they sell or the VAT-returns don't add up.

Most accountants will not accept invoices or receipts that obviously miss VAT or other items.

What I'm getting at is that most companies will want to do things properly because of this risk of getting investigated. If this investigations shows that your company is ducking tax or VAT, it can result (depending on the degree) in (big) fines, not being allowed to run a bussiness or even prison.

If you do offer to attempt avoiding VAT, your potential customers in EU-countries will probably think that you are willing to cheat not only the tax and VAT authorities but also your customers. They may even report you to the relevant authorities.


 7:02 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)


Many thanks for your answer. Everything is clear.

Looks like without VAT we are risking to lose business organization customers.

Thanks to everyone again.



 7:16 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I better add that of course I am not an accountant, so my answer is not neccessarily the truth!

I would strongly advice you to talk to the VAT Office from the relevant EU-country. They will be able to explain to you in simple terms what brochures or online articles on the subject actually mean and advice you on your particular situation.

Don't give up yet! It might not be as difficult as it seems. If your product is good, people will want to buy it regardless of VAT. And it is after all your customer who pays the VAT, not you.

Please report back, I'm sure lots of us have an interest in finding out how you get on, I know I do. Good luck!


 9:33 pm on Dec 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

About that VAT on e-services:

"VAT on e-services applies to the sale of electronically delivered products, such as downloads, and electronic services to private customers inside of the EU offered by companies located outside of the EU."

"Who is not affected?
Software publishers headquartered within the EU, and sales to corporate customers headquartered within the EU are not affected by the directive and handle their sales as before."

So as long as one located outside of EU provides e-service only to EU business companies, he or she doesn't need to take VAT.

Hope this info helps someone else.



 6:41 pm on Dec 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

Oh, I didn't know that e-stuff is exempt to VAT for businesses. That's great news! I wonder if that also applies to hosting services in the US? Domain name registrars in the US? One would think so.

Thanks for reading up on this, Nova, and sharing your info. I hope that this makes life easier for you.

Global Options:
 top home search open messages active posts  

Home / Forums Index / WebmasterWorld / Ecommerce
rss feed

All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
© Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved