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Conor Pope: Shopping from the UK 'going to get worse from tomorrow'

Shopping online on sites and retailers outside the European Union is changing. People buying good...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.44 30 Jun 2021


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Conor Pope: Shopping from the...

Conor Pope: Shopping from the UK 'going to get worse from tomorrow'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.44 30 Jun 2021


Share this article


Shopping online on sites and retailers outside the European Union is changing.

People buying goods from outside the bloc will face new VAT rules from Thursday.

The current VAT exemption for imported goods with a value of €22 or less is ending, and all goods arriving into Ireland from non-EU countries - regardless of their value - will be subject to VAT.

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Revenue says the VAT rate "will be the relevant rate that would apply if the goods were purchased in Ireland."

This will also apply to goods purchased in the UK.

The new rules will also be on goods bought from a non-EU country before July 1st, but that arrive here on or after that date.

The change is being brought in across all EU member states to "ensure that goods imported from outside the EU no longer have a preferential VAT treatment compared to goods purchased from within the EU".

Conor Pope, pricewatch editor with the Irish Times, told The Hard Shoulder everything is about to get more complicated.

"Since the start of the year, people who've been shopping on websites based in the UK have been hit with all sorts of new charges.

"Higher taxes, administration fees, delays and all sorts of other things.

"And it's going to get worse from tomorrow.

"Up until now there was an exemption - so nobody paid any VAT on products brought in from third countries, and third countries in the past would have meant the United States, China, Australia.

"But obviously since the UK has left the European Union, Britain now becomes a third country.

"All VAT was exempt, up to a value of €22.

"If suddenly you have to pay VAT on a product that costs €20, it's going to add around €5 on to the price of that product.

"All products now - it doesn't matter if you buy something on Amazon that costs 70c or €1.50 - everything is going to accrue the VAT charge, and that's what's going to make it more expensive for people".

He says products will be withheld until additional fees are paid.

Amazon.ie?

But Conor says the big sellers which supply Ireland through the UK, such as Amazon, are looking at changes.

"When Amazon started doing business more than 20 years ago, it couldn't have been bothered setting up a special '.ie' website - frankly, the Irish market was too small.

"So Amazon just said 'OK, we're going to lump in the Republic of Ireland and the UK together and we'll serve them as one single market'.

"And that was fine most of the time... until the UK left the European Union.

"But the good news is - I say 'good news', but it's a double-edged sword - there was reports in the Irish Times and elsewhere earlier this year and late last year that Amazon is planning to open a fulfillment centre in the Republic of Ireland.

"And that would allow Irish people to buy products directly from Amazon from its warehouses in the Republic of Ireland.

"That does come with a downside... Do we want to have a society where half of all our spending goes to a company like Amazon.com?

"If they do open their fulfilment centre, which has been reported, that is going to make them an even more attractive proposition for Irish consumers.

"And that is going to come at a cost for Irish towns, Irish cities and indeed Irish consumers.

"All of that money will be effectively hoovered up and sucked out of the economy and none of it will get recycled.

"So we have to be careful what we wish for".

Conor Pope: Shopping from the UK 'going to get worse from tomorrow'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: A woman uses a laptop to browse the Amazon UK website in December 2014. Picture by: Tim Goode/PA Archive/PA Images

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