A local lawyer has started a campaign to get ASOS to stop charging VAT to islanders, and is asking those who have ordered from the online retailer in the last three years to get in touch.
While the terms and conditions from the online retailer state exports to the Channel Islands are “zero rated”, Advocate Olaf Blakeley believes he was recently charged a VAT-equivalent price, and ASOS has so far declined to refund him despite a “flurry" of explanatory emails.
The local lawyer says that at one point, ASOS’s customer services insisted no VAT had been charged.
When he pointed out the prices on their website included VAT and that he had paid that price, they then provided another argument.
Pictured: ASOS clearly states on their website that they do not charge VAT on orders from the Channel Islands.
“It appeared what their argument was, is they accounted 0% for VAT on the order, giving me the impression what they were saying was they were charging 20% more but just pocketing that and not accounting for it to HMRC,” Advocate Blakeley said.
“Legally, they would be right. If such was the shenanigans, you are not being charged VAT you are just being charged the same price as if you were paying VAT. ASOS just keeps it all because it is not legally required to account to HMRC.”
Following the “mind-boggling emails”, he has decided to pursue ASOS and is appealing to islanders who have been charged VAT on orders from ASOS over the last three years to get in touch.
“I need to gauge the extent of the problem before I begin the arduous task of extracting the overcharged amounts from ASOS, including having them agree to refund others’ historic amounts,” Advocate Blakeley said.
“They could have avoided this very expensive and complicated task, if they had just deducted 20% on my order. But, the gauntlet has fallen.”
Pictured: Richard Summersgill said the Treasury Department wants offshore retailers to stop charging Jersey customers VAT and start collecting GST instead.
It comes after Jersey's Comptroller of Taxes Richard Summersgill, revealed earlier this year that the Treasury Department was looking for ways to ensure offshore retailers stop charging Jersey customers VAT and start collecting GST instead.
The news came as the Treasury announced a review into how GST is charged.
The issue of online retailers charging VAT to local customers has been ongoing since Jersey introduced GST in 2007. While some like Amazon have stopped charging VAT, others have continued doing so.
“We have a situation where effectively for a very long time we had an uneven playing field that has been unfair competition in Jersey’s marketplace, so some offshore retailers have continued to charge VAT even though they don’t need to,” Mr Summersgill explained.
“Equally others don’t charge VAT but don’t charge GST. Some offshore retailers have made arrangements to pay GST in Jersey, others have not.”
Islanders who think they have been charged VAT on orders from ASOS over the last three years should send their name and address to Advocate Blakeley via email.
A 'taxing' problem - Advocate Blakeley's latest column for Express, which explains the issue in further detail
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an online interview and she replied that she was unaware of this factor and couldn't comment. It's time that this is addressed.