Your Comments

Isn't it illegal for you to charge VAT on postage?


Nick, I've been running mail order businesses on and off since the 1970s. I recall when I first started buying things by mail order that I also accused a number of suppliers of illegally charging VAT on postage. In fact we have to charge VAT because post and packing is classed as a service. YOU can go to any Post Office and buy stamps without paying VAT. However I am legally obliged to charge VAT for the "service" of postage and packing which includes buying the stamp and packing materials plus the "labour" of sticking the stamp on the packing, putting the goods inside and driving to a post box.

I don't agree with the idea myself but I'm bound by law to do it this way. Believe me, if I could avoid it I would. I don't gain anything because the VAT has to be handed over to Customs and Excise. The only items I'm allowed to sell without adding VAT are books and booklets. Even here there is a distinction: If the book is in a ring binder with replaceable pages or on a CD or a downloadable file, then I have to charge VAT!

For further information please call the Customs & Excise help line.

And, no, I haven't taken offence at your suggestion since, as I mentioned, I suggested it myself many years ago and several suppliers took the trouble to explain the situation to me, as I hope I have for you :o)

BTW some suppliers do not charge VAT on anything. This is because their annual turnover is so low that they are not VAT registered. However, they can not claim VAT back on things that they buy so their goods are likely to be no cheaper than mine.

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