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Well, That’s Not Going To Complicate Things At All, He Said With A Grimace

I speak today of international tax regimes, and a Brexit-addled government in London that is determined to immiserate the residents of the UK. One may recall changes to value-added taxes in the UK in the past, the VATMOSS which eventually exempted small purchases and which was mostly addressed by services like Gumroad and everybody else? Well, they just hoped to fly under the radar of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

Yeah, got some bad news for you, person who sells anything to anybody in the UK:

This HMRC change to VAT on small imports is potentially hugely damaging to free trade and customer choice – article here summary below

That from Paul Lewis, a financial journalist in Blighty. The summary from his tweet was the image included above, but for screenreaders, here’s the important parts:

Anyone abroad who wants to sell a product in Britain will have to register with HM Revenue & Customs and pay VAT directly to the government. At present the seller merely has to fill in a customs declaration that the purchser pays the tax. Three other changes will come into effect. First, the VAT exemption for products worth less than £15 will come to an end.

I left out the second and third because they deal with EU-resident sellers with British customers and vice versa; I’m addressing the folks that are not part of the EU or UK, but regardless of where in the world you are, I’ll repeat that first line with some bolding this time: Anyone abroad who wants to sell a product in Britain will have to register with HM Revenue & Customs and pay VAT directly to the government.

So if you’re an indie creator with customers in the UK, I’d encourage you to encourage them to get any purchases sorted out now, with delivery dates well in advance of 1 January (who knows if the Customs officers will treat a package showing up on 2 January but in fulfillment of an order placed on 15 December as old rules or new rules). Either that, or get in business with Her Majesty’s Government, and be prepared to pay with time, money, and effort to get in (and stay in) compliance with the new regs¹.

I mean, you could try to ignore it, but something tells me that small merchants that don’t pay VAT are going to see their shipments refused for delivery² rather than a discreet eye turned to the side. At the very least, if you try to smuggle your stuff to customers via the post, you’ll possibly find yourself the subject of inquiries if you ever change planes at Heathrow.

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¹ Hopefully we’ll get more information before or near to the first of the year if t-shirts and books from overseas becoming prohibitively complicated for sellers to process. Because that revocation of the £15 exemption is either a major-league a dick move, or Her Majesty’s Government needs every tuppence it can wrangle from the rest of the world as their economy gets Wrecksited. I’m seeing reports of EU vendors being told they have to pay HMR&C £1000 for the privilege of collecting and forwarding VAT and ha ha no, fuck that.

² Or worse, the purchaser never gets them, and the shipper never gets them back. Whether they end up in a landfill, on Ebay, or in some Customs officer’s home is open to speculation.

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