Amazon clamp down on Chinese sellers without UK VAT numbers

Earlier this year, in the UK budget, Chancellor George Osborne promised that HMRC would have the powers to go after overseas sellers who were not complying with VAT regulations.

The problem of overseas sellers, often from China, not playing fair on VAT will be well known to most marketplace sellers. But it seems that Amazon is taking action.

According to the Guardian: “The online retailer has been conducting a review of seller VAT compliance in the UK. It is understood to have contacted many Chinese sellers, giving them until the end of the month to provide their VAT numbers.”

It seems that new Amazon UK boss Doug Gurr is keen to avoid any future embarrassment like that which Amazon suffered when VAT abuses were revealed last year. An Amazon spokesperson said: “Sellers are independent businesses responsible for complying with their own VAT obligations. We do offer tools and information to assist sellers with their compliance, but we don’t have the authority to review their tax affairs.”

But it’s nonetheless heartening to see Amazon taking steps to tackle this problem and ensure a level playing field. Many of these abuses are quite obvious to spot and anything which gets more revenues into the UK’s coffers is good news.

We encourage eBay to take similar steps against the obvious offenders too. Once again, it would seem that Amazon is ahead of the curve by taking action.