Penman’s latest on eBay seller VAT on eBay UK

By Dan Wilson January 15, 2015 - 6:08 pm

You can’t knock Andrew Penman’s persistence. He has written another article today about overseas sellers he accuses of not paying their fair whack of VAT on eBay UK sales. It’s the latest in a line of several pieces that stretch back to before Christmas.

It’s called: “Why isn’t more being done about the foreign eBay sellers who cheat us all by not paying VAT?

In it Mirror journalist Andrew Penman exposes some of the chicanery he’s experienced personally with a seller he bought from in a mystery shopping exercise.

Aside from that it seems that there isn’t much to report. HMRC continue to investigate, eBay haven’t changed their position and the perception is that still too many sellers are competing unfairly with UK sellers because they don’t meet their VAT liabilities.

  • Ian A
    7 years ago

    Slightly racist, but I agree. You have to move with the times.

    A large part of my business was importing the better quality products from china and selling to the UK market, as back in 2010-2012 ebay UK really was just that. The hong kong items didnt get a look in, you had to search the actual ebay hong kong site to find that stuff. I was very successful at this for a time.

    The gradual influx of chinese owned UK warehouses has pretty much ended that side of the business as they sell in volume at such a low retail price and with cheaper postage.

    There are still some higher quality models I can sell which they dont have but its no longer my main focus, I’ve switched back to more unique luxury items.

    ebay should inforce UK laws on ebay UK and make it primarily for genuine UK businesses but ebay act in ebays interests alone, regardless of law and I dont see it changing any time soon. More volume = more fees, plus they want to be in bed with the chinese sellers before alibaba gets here.

  • Steve
    7 years ago

    The point he is making is valid. ebay chinese sellers are masquerading as being UK based, and shipping in from abroad. I have just purchased and SD card , supposedly being shipped from Portsmouth, which has arrived 7 days later bearing a priority airmail sticker. That kind of practise is the least hoodwinking buyers

    • James
      7 years ago

      Please leave that seller a negative feedback for dishonesty.

    • derek duval
      7 years ago

      How did he show his location as portsmouth and why are u complaining about foreign sellers when u probably bough this item as it was the cheapest.

      There is no such thing as a free lunch u know

    • Fred
      7 years ago

      The goods are warehoused in Portsmouth. They pay import VAT (presumably declared at lower than cost) but don’t pay VAT on the sale as payment is made to a company in Hong Kong or China. The HMRC say its a known loophole. So its perfectly legal. Don’t expect them to do anything about it anytime soon. That would disturb their beauty sleep.

    • James
      7 years ago


      Can people like you please stop posting on this topic with no understanding of the issue.

      It just confuses other people when they read your incorrect information.

      Read it. Understand it. Stop posting incorrect information. There is no loophole – this is fraud.

    • Fred
      7 years ago

      Actually it was HMRC’s fraud hotline that told me this. I was already reporting a UK based seller who wasn’t VAT registered and said I think I have another one for you and explained it was a Hong Kong based seller with goods warehoused in the UK and clearly selling way over the VAT threshold. They said, you can’t report them. Its a known loophole, but not illegal. So keep your vitriole for HMRC. Give them a call and explain to them that they’re wrong.

    • James
      7 years ago

      I don’t need to explain anything to them.

      Whoever you spoke to gave you incorrect advice. HMRC isn’t staffed with the smartest and brightest – it’s a public body – the smart lot go to the private sector. Besides staff can give incorrect advice from time to time.

      Plenty of us have been told otherwise and this is backed up with various professional sources on top of that very link which I gave you.

      Re-read it.

  • ifellow
    7 years ago

    Ive become a really big Amazon buyer, because the stuff i want is not promoted on ebay.

    Today for instance I searched for ‘Carbon Monoxide’ Alarm, and the first 3 were China / HK sellers who had sold 1000s and 1000s.

    I didnt look further instead a bought from Amazon, At the end of the day i dont want a generic Carbon Monoxide uncertified product from some random chinese seller, but seems 1000s of people quite like them. They assume the item will keep them safe.

    Thats ebay all over these days. As long as you got one, thats OK dont matter if you dont wake up the next morning does it?

  • ifellow
    7 years ago

    In the article it mentions photodirect who are still selling on ebay, they sell items such as michael kors watches etc. These are classed as luxury items. I dont know what you sell , but this fraud affects 90% or all genuine UK sellers for sure.

  • 7 years ago

    That guy is the tablet king. I have been bitching and moaning to Samsung about how he can sell below disti cost consistently (like Amazon was doing last year on electronics. I assumed because all the nobs on ebay shifting tabs had ‘photo’ or similar in their biz name they had the link into a cushty samsung uk supply chain. Turns out photo bloke is just another dodgy vat scammer. The only way the brands are going to take action is if the EMEA numbers are hit. HRMC are useless

  • Jimbo
    7 years ago

    Hopefully the blog owners will soon remove this offensive post.

  • ifellow
    7 years ago

    I’m seriously considering working with this loop hole, if hmrc are doing nothing about it.

    It would simply means changing my company description to fulfilment and creating a company in China, hk or anywhere favourable.

    Then invoicing between the 2 for fulfilment legally the company registered abroad would a separate legal identity to the fulfilment centre in the UK. Who sales would be massively low under 60k per year In my case.

    In return I’d save several 1000s of £s in vat, corporation tax, accounting costs.

    Thanks HMRC

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