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Google still ducking VAT obligations?

Google zero rating VAT on UK sales

Recently purchased 2 Nest Cams from google for my business. Their website lists a UK VAT registration number as does their order confirmation. Received the goods but had to chase them for a VAT receipt. First receipt did not show VAT separately and had a Dutch VAT number but a Dublin invoice address. Challenged them on this requesting either a VAT refund as an inter community inter company zero VAT sale or a VAT receipt from the GB VAT number. The next receipt I received was the same but with an explanation thus - 

My apologies for the mistake, and thank you for bringing this to my attention. Please find, attached, the corrected VAT Invoice for your records.
With regard to the absence of the breakdown in VAT on your invoice, please allow me the opportunity to explain a little further. The price shown on the Nest.com website is VAT inclusive - and it includes the VAT amount that is relevant to the VAT amount in your country. Although we cannot provide you with the invoice that shows the VAT, you can still claim your VAT back in your country. This is because the supply is subject to 0% VAT as sales are made from our warehouse outside of your country, as per Intra-Community supply of goods subject to zero-rating in accordance with Articles 33 and 138 of VAT Directive 2006/112/EC. So just to confirm you'd need to self-account for the VAT. I hope that it's clear and if you have any questions feel free to reply to this e-mail. 

I really do not have the time to play games with Google but this looks to me that Google are playing games with the UK tax system.

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19th Dec 2017 08:56

If the goods were shipped from Ireland to UK in a B2B transaction then I believe the transaction would be zero-rated and subject to the reverse charge.

I can only see a problem if shipped from UK to UK.

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19th Dec 2017 09:17

Is google a retailer? There was me thinking it was a search engine/advertising model business.

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to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
19th Dec 2017 11:50

Is selling ad inventory different from a normal retailer?

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By mrme89
to Francois Badenhorst
19th Dec 2017 12:01

Retailers usually sell goods.

Unless Google start selling branded mugs and pens to generate their revenue, they are selling a service.

VAT rules differ between goods and services.

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By pharvey
19th Dec 2017 13:49

Thanks for feedback. I should clarify, I stated Google but it is Nest Labs which I believe produce the Home Automation products as part of the Google empire, who in turn are both part of Alphabet.inc.
The products were dispatched from Holland but invoiced from Dublin. The price is the same whether they supply consumers and state it is VAT inclusive and companys' where they claim its is also VAT inclusive but then at zero rate.

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19th Dec 2017 14:47

Were you asked to complete business details and enter a UK VAT number when making the purchase? For products billed as 'home' devices and marketed directly to consumers, this might not have happened. If it did not, they couldn't zero-rate the sale.

If they have treated you as a consumer or unregistered person, they should have charged UK VAT (ie, their sales into the UK seem likely to be high enough to make them registrable in the UK for distance sales, assuming the sale was not UK-to-UK in the first place). Take a look at VAT notice 725 'Single Market'.

Have you asked HMRC for advice?

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By pharvey
19th Dec 2017 17:14

Thanks again everyone - you've all been very helpful. I had not been requested to input our VAT number at time of sale and the transaction made no mention that this would be an inter country purchase. In fact, the listed GB VAT number led me to believe this was a UK transaction and that I would be charged VAT which we subsequently reclaim. I am tackling them again on that they are obliged to provide a detailed VAT invoice as detailed in VAT Notice 700 section 16. Not holding out too much hope on this but will keep you posted.

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