No more buying duty-free books or DVDs on Amazon and the like. Orders via the internet no longer escape VAT since the beginning of the year.
Since the beginning of 2019, purchases by the Swiss on foreign sites have become more expensive. Indeed, the regulation regulating mail order sales has entered into force and removes the competitive disadvantage in terms of VAT suffered by Swiss online sales companies.
Until now, their foreign competitors did not charge VAT if it was less than 5 francs. The Swiss were thus able to escape the value-added tax by purchasing up to 200 francs worth of pounds or 65 francs worth of goods that were not subject to a reduced rate. But from now on, foreign online merchants will have to charge VAT to their Swiss-based customers if they exceed the annual turnover threshold of 100,000 francs, whether this is reached in our country or abroad.
VAT for every order
The Swiss will have to pay VAT on every order, even the smallest one. Books, magazines, food, medicines and certain other products are taxed at a reduced rate of 2.5%. If you buy a book for 30 francs on the internet, you have to pay 75 cents extra. If you order DVDs for 200 francs, the VAT is 5 francs.
But for the vast majority of other goods such as electronics, clothes, toys, etc. the rate is 7.7%. If you order shoes for 100 francs, you pay 7.70 francs plus VAT. If you buy accessories for your iPhone for 30 francs, you pay 2.30 francs extra. The VAT amount can be up to 65 francs.
20 million more francs
Separately, the amounts may seem small. But thanks to this change, the Confederation expects additional revenue estimated at 20 million francs, the Tages-Anzeiger Thursday. And this amount will undoubtedly increase. The number of small goods shipments from abroad has increased from 50,000 packages in the past 5 years to an average of 120,000 per day. Of which 80,000 from Asia.
But the new regulations represent a significant effort for suppliers. So Amazon.com decided to throw in the towel. Swiss customers can only order apps and digital books there. For “physical” goods, they will have to turn to the group’s French, German, British or Italian subsidiaries. It’s up to them to take care of the extra work that the recipe entails. We do not yet know what the financial consequences will be for the prices charged to the Swiss, according to the Tagi.
It must be said that invoicing VAT will not be easy. If the supplier’s turnover in Switzerland is less than 100,000 francs, it is the delivery services such as La Poste or DHL that invoice the customer with VAT. If the turnover exceeds 100,000 francs, it is up to the supplier to charge this directly on the invoice. In order to find their way, large online stores will have to state their VAT number on the customer’s address label. If they forget, the VAT will be charged to the customer. At the risk of paying twice its contribution…
And it will not be easy to get back the VAT paid. Indeed, the tax authorities and customs will most likely pass the jerk off and refund nothing. As a result, the aggrieved customer would have only two options: either take private action against the supplier, or reluctantly agree to pay twice the VAT.
It will therefore be necessary to double check the billing when placing the order directly. But it will also be more difficult there, de Tagi emphasizes. Because some online sales platforms seem Swiss. But the delivery of the goods is in fact from another country… In case of uncertainty, consumers are advised to contact the supplier directly before placing an order.
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