More media coverage about ‘Chinese sellers’ on eBay and Amazon re VAT

Yesterday we reported that the Guardian and BBC had picked up on a story many of you have been aware about for some years. Non-EU sellers have been getting a competitive advantage over British SMEs by not fulfilling their UK VAT obligations when selling into the UK.

In our post yesterday we noted comment from both eBay and Amazon and since then there has been more media coverage that may well be of interest.

The story also featured on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme on Monday evening:
(The piece starts at 28 minutes and will only be available in the UK. Apologies to our international readers.)

The Register has published: HMRC ‘reluctant’ to crack down on VAT fraudsters – tax ace. That article rightly queries what more HMRC should be doing.

There’s a snippet here from BBC 5Live published by campaigner Richard Allen on YouTube featuring Professor de la Feria:

And this blog by Richard Murphy at Tax Research UK called “Amazon and eBay: who is liable for the VAT evasion?” wonders how stringently the situation has been investigated by Trading Standards: “The interesting question is what can be done about this? First, and most obviously, the question has to be asked as to why such a tiny proportion of trading standards time is dedicated to this task? I gather the sum total of people involved may be just one person.”

One day’s media coverage is useful but it may not lead anywhere. But it does solidify several of the aspects of this problem that need addressing: Who is responsible for enforcing the rules and collecting this tax? How much money is the UK losing out on in lost tax revenues? Who is standing up for UK sellers doing the right thing, paying VAT and facing unfair competition? What more should eBay and Amazon be doing?

We’ll see if this story continues to run and what happens. Tell us your views and solutions.