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-   -   How to claim back VAT from online purchases. (https://www.englishforum.ch/finance-banking-taxation/190798-how-claim-back-vat-online-purchases.html)

Island Monkey 22.10.2013 16:38

How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Is there a way to claim back VAT, if you buy something online from an EU country? :confused: I've just bought something from France, and regularly buy from UK and DE. Quite often, even though they are shipping to CH, you still get charged the VAT.

Thanks

BaselPT 22.10.2013 17:00

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
You get charged the swiss VAT though, right?

ChrisNeedsToKnow 22.10.2013 17:00

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Island Monkey (Post 2002614)
Is there a way to claim back VAT, if you buy something online from an EU country? :confused: I've just bought something from France, and regularly buy from UK and DE. Quite often, even though they are shipping to CH, you still get charged the VAT.

Thanks

If the delivery address is outside the EU, EU-merchants are not supposed to charge their respective local VAT.

I ordered on amazon.de many times, and VAT is routinely not charged.

However, as per your experience, not all merchants know this and follow the rules properly.

Strategy B would be to have your package sent to a place near the border but still in the EU, go there and collect it in person, and finish the tax-formalities yourself. If the stamped bill is returned to the merchant he can (but does not have to!) refund the VAT to you.

ChrisNeedsToKnow 22.10.2013 17:03

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BaselPT (Post 2002625)
You get charged the swiss VAT though, right?

In the delivery-business, Swiss VAT will be charged if the collectible VAT exceeds CHF 5.00.

If youīre below CHF 5.00 applicable Swiss VAT itīs free, otherwise youīll have to pay a handling fee of ~CHF45.00 to have the pleasure to be allowed to pay the applicable VAT.

BaselPT 22.10.2013 17:37

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Now you made me confused, Chris :)

I thought amazon.fr and .de would ship to Switzerland, not charge the French / German VAT, but charge the German one. Is it then the case they don't charge any VAT, even if the item(s) go over the personal daily allowance of 300 CHF for importing stuff into Switzerland for personal use?

ChrisNeedsToKnow 22.10.2013 17:47

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BaselPT (Post 2002645)
Now you made me confused, Chris :)

I thought amazon.fr and .de would ship to Switzerland, not charge the French / German VAT, but charge the German (question/edit: you mean Swiss?) one. Is it then the case they don't charge any VAT, even if the item(s) go over the personal daily allowance of 300 CHF for importing stuff into Switzerland for personal use?

I think youīre mixing up the free allowances:

When travelling, i.e. personally crossing the border, the free allowance is CHF 300 net-value of the goods (without foreign VAT) per day.

For deliveries (i.e. someone else professionally transporting the goods for you) the free allowance is CHF 5 in applicable VAT per delivery. In this case you have to differentiate between 8% "normal" Swiss VAT and 2.6% (I think) "reduced" Swiss VAT for books and other specified items.

Donīt know why itīs like that, donīt kill the messenger. :)

The importer is responsible for paying applicable VAT on the Swiss side. The post usually handles this for you (adding their modest CHF 45 handling fee).

Island Monkey 22.10.2013 18:14

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Yes, I had to pay the Swiss import tax. Many online sites though do not have the option of not paying the local VAT even though the item is being shipped to Switzerland!

ChrisNeedsToKnow 22.10.2013 18:17

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Island Monkey (Post 2002663)
Yes, I had to pay the Swiss import tax. Many online sites though do not have the option of not paying the local VAT even though the item is being shipped to Switzerland!

Itīs always worth contacting vendors beforehand. Sometimes they just donīt know about this, but on request fix it for you.

Depending on the value I wouldnīt buy from someone charging EU-VAT. Thatīs customer-care, and with a difference of 19% a more "expensive" vendor could become (loads) cheaper.

Simple email usually does the trick.

Rgds, Christian

BaselPT 22.10.2013 20:26

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisNeedsToKnow (Post 2002648)
I think youīre mixing up the free allowances:

When travelling, i.e. personally crossing the border, the free allowance is CHF 300 net-value of the goods (without foreign VAT) per day.

For deliveries (i.e. someone else professionally transporting the goods for you) the free allowance is CHF 5 in applicable VAT per delivery. In this case you have to differentiate between 8% "normal" Swiss VAT and 2.6% (I think) "reduced" Swiss VAT for books and other specified items.

Donīt know why itīs like that, donīt kill the messenger. :)

The importer is responsible for paying applicable VAT on the Swiss side. The post usually handles this for you (adding their modest CHF 45 handling fee).

I did mean Swiss VAT above.

What was confusing for me was that I imagined Amazon added the VAT according to the Swiss rate. Apparently not.

So the bottom line is, when you order stuff from Amazon, if it is books under 192 CHF you are VAT free (wow), but generally only if under 62.5 CHF (which would correspond to 5 CHF at 8%) for other items, otherwise you get stung an extra 45 by the post office for the "favour" on top of the swiss VAT. That handling fee is very steep percentage-wise unless you are ordering something really expensive. And I imagine that if you do pay the French/German VAT ordering something from a vendor that doesn't deduct, the Post might think you didn't pay any VAT and still charge the handling fee + swiss VAT, no?

ChrisNeedsToKnow 22.10.2013 20:42

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BaselPT (Post 2002762)
So the bottom line is, when you order stuff from Amazon, if it is books under 192 CHF you are VAT free (wow),

As the free allowance is per package, not per day, itīs practically unlimited for books, unless you find a single book which is above the allowance. In all other cases, just split your order into as many packages as needed.

Quote:

Originally Posted by BaselPT (Post 2002762)
but generally only if under 62.5 CHF (which would correspond to 5 CHF at 8%) for other items, otherwise you get stung an extra 45 by the post office for the "favour" on top of the swiss VAT. That handling fee is very steep percentage-wise unless you are ordering something really expensive.

yes - and theyīre dead serious about this. I once had to pay 6.xx CHF, and 45 for the pleasure to be allowed to do so :(

Quote:

Originally Posted by BaselPT (Post 2002762)
And I imagine that if you do pay the French/German VAT ordering something from a vendor that doesn't deduct, the Post might think you didn't pay any VAT and still charge the handling fee + swiss VAT, no?

Swiss VAT is calculated on

((netvalue + postage) * >>official fx-rate of yesterday<<) * applicable Swiss VAT rate = amount due

Swiss VAT is never added on top of the foreign VAT, no matter if the sender (incorrectly) charged it or (correctly) omitted it.

Last but not least, there might be a seperate customs duty. That depends on where the goods originate from, and some other details. Iīm currently trying to get the hang of these details for professional reasons, but didnīt quite catch 100% of that yet... It doesnīt apply if the goods are from the EU, so in most cases there should be nothing to worry about.

marton 22.10.2013 21:03

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisNeedsToKnow (Post 2002775)
As the free allowance is per package, not per day, itīs practically unlimited for books, unless you find a single book which is above the allowance. In all other cases, just split your order into as many packages as needed.

yes - and theyīre dead serious about this. I once had to pay 6.xx CHF, and 45 for the pleasure to be allowed to do so :(


Swiss VAT is calculated on

((netvalue + postage) * >>official fx-rate of yesterday<<) * applicable Swiss VAT rate = amount due

Swiss VAT SHOULD NOT BE added on top of the foreign VAT, no matter if the sender (incorrectly) charged it or (correctly) omitted it.

Last but not least, there might be a seperate customs duty. That depends on where the goods originate from, and some other details. Iīm currently trying to get the hang of these details for professional reasons, but didnīt quite catch 100% of that yet... It doesnīt apply if the goods are from the EU, so in most cases there should be nothing to worry about.

Corrected that for you; if the foreign vendor has a vat included price rather than adding VAT seperately at the end then mistakes can be made when charging Swiss VAT on import.

ChrisNeedsToKnow 22.10.2013 21:07

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by marton (Post 2002798)
Corrected that for you; if the foreign vendor has a vat included price rather than adding VAT seperately at the end then mistakes can be made when charging Swiss VAT on import.

Thanks! Good to know. So if the bill doesnīt show the foreign VAT seperately, Swiss VAT might still (erroneously) be added on top?

Would there be a way to avoid that? For example, if the person handling the import sees this, would (s)he be allowed to extract the net value in one way or another?

BaselPT 22.10.2013 21:59

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Thanks for the details.

It can be worth it for books or rather specific circumstances. Amazon free delivery starts at 20 EUR to Switzerland
http://www.amazon.fr/gp/help/custome...?nodeId=897504
http://www.amazon.de/gp/help/custome...?nodeId=505554
There are other free delivery deals for specific items (books, DVDs, games) which may qualify on lower value orders.

Although note that, as asked, mp3 downloads do not qualify for free shipping :P

Given that the maximum allowed VAT break is 5 CHF at 8%, and the original VAT is around 20%, you are saving on something like 12 CHF tops on the original VAT. However to be in such a situation you are risking that a exchange rate fluctuation sends you over the top and then you get the 45 CHF penalty.

But with the current exchange rate being very stable, one could do multiple orders of above 20 EUR and save on the VAT of around 4 EUR each order.

axman 23.10.2013 06:55

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Is the Swiss Post fee fr.45 or is it fr.16+ 3% of the value of the goods?

Anyway the worst part is that they changed their rules. The shippers declaration of the value of goods is final. Eg. if you bought something at a discount for fr.50 but they mistakenly declare at the original price of say fr.65, then you have to pay tax. Unlike previously, you cannot go back to them afterwards to make a correction....


Edit: it depends on the country.
http://www.post.ch/en/post-startseit...ernational.htm

Zentachi 23.10.2013 07:22

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Useful post and answered many of my questions about custom taxes for Switzerland :)

Luckily so far my orders have been at small values ( less than 15 CHF), so I guess that is why no import taxes for them.

If I order something for example around 200 CHF but without any invoice or other price indicator, will I be charged with import taxes?

st2lemans 23.10.2013 07:30

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Zentachi (Post 2002972)
If I order something for example around 200 CHF but without any invoice or other price indicator, will I be charged with import taxes?

Yes.

They will decide what they think it is worth.

Tom

st2lemans 23.10.2013 07:31

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by axman (Post 2002969)
Is the Swiss Post fee fr.45 or is it fr.16+ 3% of the value of the goods?

CHF 16 + 3%.

Tom

Belgianmum 23.10.2013 09:10

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by st2lemans (Post 2002976)
CHF 16 + 3%.

Tom

Thanks for that, saved me the bother of looking it up for certain.

I have never paid 45chf from the post office but I think they can sometimes charge 30chf if they randomly choose one of your parcels for inspection. IIRC from posts on here they charge this fee even if your goods are below the limit.

BaselPT 23.10.2013 09:50

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
On the site it seemed to say 12 + 3% for stuff coming from Zone 1, which includes France and Germany (given that amazon.fr and .de were discussed through the thread I thought it was relevant to point this out).

For a package worth 62 CHF (which is near the threshold for custom clearance) the 3% are worth 1.86, so this would put the fee at 13.86.

However I noted the site also has an extensive list of fees for "additional services", which include such nice services as "Inspection, value evaluation and storage", together with the above post I think that maybe they add this fee often?

st2lemans 23.10.2013 09:56

Re: How to claim back VAT from online purchases.
 
Thanks.

They seem to keep changing.

First it was CHF 18, then CHF 16 + 3%, now it depends on from where. :rolleyes:

Tom


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