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Old 11.12.2015, 17:11
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VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

This may be a very long shot, but I was wondering if anyone else worked for an embassy and had any idea how to subscribe to non-Swiss newspapers etc. without paying VAT.
Our subscription for the Financial Times needs to be renewed, and their London office says they can do a tax exemption, but have no idea which form to use and all the Swiss tax exemption forms we have here are for services and goods purchased inside Switzerland, and none of them are in English either.


Does anyone have any idea?
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Old 11.12.2015, 18:07
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

Just curious - does your sister embassy in London pay the London congestion charge there or is it on the current collection list which totals £94.4 million!

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/cclez-onli...bassy-debt.pdf
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Old 11.12.2015, 18:13
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

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This may be a very long shot, but I was wondering if anyone else worked for an embassy and had any idea how to subscribe to non-Swiss newspapers etc. without paying VAT.
Our subscription for the Financial Times needs to be renewed, and their London office says they can do a tax exemption, but have no idea which form to use and all the Swiss tax exemption forms we have here are for services and goods purchased inside Switzerland, and none of them are in English either.


Does anyone have any idea?
UK export sales to Switzerland are VAT free regardless if you are an embassy or not.
There is no requirement for a tax exemption form; the address on the invoice is clear?
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Old 11.12.2015, 19:19
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

Foreign embassies in Bern also have a poor record of paying traffic fines. According to Watson.ch, only 179 of 3,387 traffic tickets issued to foreign diplomats in 2014 were paid, costing Canton Bern around CHF 250,000 in lost revenue.

Let's hope your embassy requires its diplomats to pay its traffic tickets:

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Old 11.12.2015, 21:36
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

Newspapers in the UK are VAT free anyway so there should be no need for any forms.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rates-of-vat-on-different-goods-and-services#printing-postage-publications---books-magazines-and-newspapers
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Old 12.12.2015, 00:22
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

I worked for an embassy and anything we bought was tax free or we could claim it back (I loved the reclaims on petrol )
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Old 14.12.2015, 09:55
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

Thank you for your replies!
There is a 2.5% VAT on our invoice. (Last year, we had that plus 8%, the year before 0...) It's pretty strange.


We usually pay the fines invoked by embassy drivers, and I try to steer the diplomats into the direction of paying their fines as well, but I have no influence on them, so...
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Old 14.12.2015, 12:41
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

Our ambassador told us to pay, he didn´t want to be on the list of embassies that never pay traffic fines. Interestingly the best record was - at that time - for the papal nuncio
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Old 14.12.2015, 13:13
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

It's positive that the ambassador encouraged the embassy's employees to pay traffic tickets. Too often embassy employees feel they can pick and choose which laws they obey. Several years ago the IRS estimated that 50% of non-diplomatic embassy employees in the US were not properly paying US income taxes, including not filing:

"The Internal Revenue Service is providing a further extension, until June 30, 2007, of the deadline for current and former U.S.-based employees of foreign embassies, consular offices and missions and international organizations to participate in a one-time settlement initiative to resolve outstanding tax matters related to their employment.

The offer is open to employees of those organizations who are U.S. citizens, green-card holders and foreign employees who have tax obligations. Accredited diplomatic personnel are generally exempt from income taxes on their wages under the Internal Revenue Code and international treaties or agreements.

The IRS estimates that as many as half of these employees subject to U.S. tax fail to report their wages, claim deductions they are not entitled to, incorrectly establish SEP/IRA retirement plans, fail to pay self-employment tax or fail to file tax returns."

https://www.irs.gov/irb/2007-15_IRB/ar15.html
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Old 14.12.2015, 13:23
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

Well, in Switzerland the not paying taxes could be due to this problem:
Tax at source for B permit employee with non-billing employer
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Old 14.12.2015, 13:43
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

The lack of employer-source tax is part of the issue coupled with a general arrogance by many embassy employees, imo.

Several years ago Norway reported a significant issue with tax evasion by embassy employees there:

"Norwegian tax authorities are trying to crack down on what they fear is widespread tax evasion among locally based employees of foreign embassies in Norway. More than 50 employees at the US Embassy in Oslo alone are now under suspicion of failing to declare their incomes, which the embassies themselves generally don’t report to local authorities either, despite official repeated requests that they do so."

http://www.newsinenglish.no/2013/11/...-evaded-taxes/
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Old 14.12.2015, 14:04
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Re: VAT exemption for embassies when ordering overseas

I am somehow quite sure that this is not only the case with Norwegian embassies.......!
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