When will we stop this abuse?

Posted on

I reproduce the following from the Amazon UK web site, which you can access if you try to by a CD:

Buying from Amazon's Preferred Merchant, Indigostarfish.com

Indigostarfish.com is an independent Jersey-based merchant offering to supply goods to UK customers via the Amazon.co.uk website. Orders placed with Indigostarfish.com are subject to the Indigostarfish.com Terms & Conditions.

Ordering Basics

  • To order a product from Indigostarfish.com, click the "Add to Basket" button or 1-click button as you would for a regular Amazon.co.uk order. Once you've placed your order, Indigostarfish.com will dispatch the item directly to you in accordance with their standard terms and conditions a copy of which are available here: Indigostarfish.com Terms & Conditions.
  • If you can't see the message "Items for dispatch to UK will be sold by Amazon's Preferred Merchant." in the availability message on the product information page, the item isn't sold by Indigostarfish.com.
  • Should you experience any problems with your Indigostarfish.com order or if you require a refund, please contact us and we will arrange for your refund to be processed by Indigostarfish.com on your behalf in accordance with their standard terms and conditions.
  • Indigostarfish.com is a fully-licensed and independent Jersey-based company; as an Independent Merchant trading on the Amazon platform it is required to comply with strict operating parameters and is entirely committed to offering its customers the best selection at the lowest prices.
  • Goods sold by Indigostarfish.com by way of personal import are "Community Goods" (i.e. in free circulation in the customs territory of the EU) and should not therefore be subject to customs duties when you import them from Jersey to the UK. They can only be dispatched to locations within the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and all BFPO addresses) and the Channel Islands.
  • Ownership and risk in the goods will transfer to you when the goods are dispatched from Jersey on your behalf by Indigostarfish.com.
  • Indigostarfish.com will only dispatch Orders placed on the Amazon.co.uk website to the UK.
  • If you order an item that is messaged as being sold by Amazon's Preferred Merchant for dispatch to anywhere other than the UK, you are placing your Order with Amazon.co.uk. This will be subject to Amazon.co.uk's terms and conditions, and the appropriate VAT charges for the destination country will be applied to the order. Click here for more information.

Why this weird structure? Simple: it’s all about tax abuse, nothing else. I’ve referred to VAT abuse on the trade ion items shipped from Jersey to the UK costing less than £18 many times before. It was dealt with in Parliament earlier this year:

VAT: Channel Islands

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the effect on value added tax (VAT) revenue of VAT-free goods coming through the Channel Islands into the UK in each of the last three financial years. [256410]

Mr. Timms: We estimate that the cost of the Low Value Consignment Relief on imports from the Channel Islands was around £70 million in 2006-07 and £80 million in 2007-08.

Insufficient data are available to produce comparable estimates for the year 2005-06.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to prevent value added tax-free goods entering the UK from the Channel Islands. [256476]

Mr. Timms: Over the last three years the Government have worked with the authorities in Jersey and Guernsey to address this issue. As a result, and to avoid potential damage to their international reputation, the authorities in Jersey and Guernsey have taken a number of steps to restrain the exploitation of the low value consignment VAT relief by UK companies. These are set out in detail in my speech to the House on 27 January 2009, Official Report, columns 275-76.

So here you see what Mr Timms referred to in action: Amazon does not ship from Jersey because Jersey no longer lets it do so, so it just contracts that a locally owned company does it for it instead.

All the items shipped are likely to have previously left the UK. They will return to the UK. This wholly uneconomic act can only be justified by the tax saving.

The tax saving is generated because no VAT is charged on the re-import of the goods in question.

This is blatant tax avoidance, in the UK and Jersey.

Why is it tolerated?

Why do we allow the loss of hundreds of millions a year as a result?

Let’s stop this now.