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Unpacking VAT compliance by industry

VAT is pretty straightforward. But, VAT compliance by industry can be very complex. Especially if you do business in multiple countries. Here are some of the finer points of VAT compliance to help you understand your potential obligations.

Different VAT rules for different retail platforms 

If you import goods, then you often have to account for import VAT. Similarly, if you sell goods abroad via your own website, you may incur VAT obligations. In some cases, you will be required to register for VAT abroad in one or more countries.

On the other hand, if you sell your products cross-border via an online platform (such as Amazon or eBay),  then the platform may bear the responsibility for managing the VAT.

Whether VAT applies – and who bears responsibility – depends on the specific regulations governing each market.

Industry-specific VAT

Some forms of VAT compliance really are quite specialised. For example, tooling VAT – which is imposed on machines used in manufacturing – generally applies to complex industries such as pharmaceutical and automotive manufacturing. 

Similarly, digital services VAT will, naturally, only apply to companies that provide digital services. For example streaming or data storage services.

In addition, if you hold conferences and events, there are specific rules that apply. For example, to ticket sales and event infrastructure. 

Optimise VAT compliance in your industry

Not only will you have different VAT obligations depending on your product lines and the markets you operate in. You will also face different VAT opportunities

For example, the option to defer import VAT will naturally only be of concern to companies that trade goods between countries. Opportunities to reclaim T&E input VAT are only relevant to firms whose employees incur local or foreign travel and entertainment costs. 

I’m a small business, do I still have VAT obligations?

Ironically, as a small business or startup, you may be particularly vulnerable to accidental noncompliance. Without a dedicated finance team, you run the risk of incurring VAT obligations without realising it. That could lead to serious penalties.

Get full clarity on your VAT obligations and opportunities 

If you trade above the threshold specified by your local tax authority, you have to register for VAT and account for VAT on an ongoing basis. If you sell goods or services abroad, there’s a good chance you need to account for VAT. 

Fortunately, there’s no need to leave things to chance and risk fines, extended audits and legal jeopardy.

As global VAT compliance specialists, Vatglobal will advise you on all your VAT obligations and provide expert strategic advice on how to optimise your VAT compliance. 

Our powerful VAT technology makes VAT compliance simple, easy and effective, no matter which industry you operate it. Get in touch with Vatglobal to ensure your business is always 100% VAT compliant, everywhere you have an obligation. 


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