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Poland Modernizes Tax-Free Shopping Administration

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

06 September 2013

The Polish Ministry of Finance on September 3, 2013, announced that it will expand the roll out of dedicated counters at its borders to handle electronic requests for value-added tax (VAT) refunds under its VAT-free shopping special scheme.

The announcement comes after the success of a pilot at Poland's road border crossing with Belarus in Terespol. The Ministry has said new facilities will be established across the nation's frontiers with Belarus and Ukraine to allow eligible non-EU persons to submit claims for VAT refunds electronically in respect of purchases made in Poland, cutting the burden on taxpayers at the border. The first set of new dedicated counters was installed at the border with Dorohusk, Ukraine, on September 2, 2013.

Commenting on the success of the Terespol pilot, the Ministry said: "During past months, we can say that the kiosks have helped improve the administration of the [VAT refund] regime, cutting the burden on consumers entitled to a VAT refund to a minimum."

As a result of the pilot, the number of taxpayers availing themselves of VAT refunds in Terespol increased from 530,000 applications in the first half of 2012, to close to 690,000 during the same period in 2013, the Ministry reported.

The EU-wide VAT refund scheme seeks to ensure that goods are taxed in the place where they are destined for use, to prevent double taxation, which would occur if both the EU and the visitor's home country taxed the goods upon export and import, respectively.

The scheme has its basis in EU VAT law and is mandatory for goods exceeding EUR175 (USD225). Member states are afforded the discretion of extending the benefit to goods below that value. Poland allows VAT refunds on goods valued over PLN200 (USD61).

TAGS: Finance | VAT special schemes | tax | Belarus | Poland | European Union (EU) | Ukraine | VAT refunds | Europe

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