Friday 19 July 2019

Higher taxes for online shoppers in hard Brexit

  

Tanaiste, Simon Coveney, and Helen McEntee TD, Minister for European Affairs pictured at government buildings speaking to journalists . Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Tanaiste, Simon Coveney, and Helen McEntee TD, Minister for European Affairs pictured at government buildings speaking to journalists . Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Online shoppers who buy from UK websites will have to pay extra taxes and forego existing protections in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

It will also be significantly more difficult to return unwanted items as excise duties paid will have to be reclaimed directly from the Revenue Commissioners.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the widespread trend of consumers buying multiple items of clothing online with a view to returning some.

Buying from the UK in a no-deal scenario will be the equivalent of purchasing from a 'third country' such as the US or China.

Sources familiar with the likely changes noted that delivery times could also be delayed amid more stringent customs checks.

However, the Irish Independent understands Revenue is preparing to beef up its personnel working in An Post depots to carry out inspections on parcels arriving from the UK outlets.

Customers will be expected to pay the extra charges when the items are delivered to their door.

Irish people are among the largest online shoppers in the world, spending in the region of €5bn annually.

Price hikes: Vat alone will add 23pc to many tech products and toys
Price hikes: Vat alone will add 23pc to many tech products and toys

Vat alone will add 23pc to many technology products, cosmetics and toys.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney confirmed shoppers will be adversely affected but said there is little that can be done about it except for consumers to look at buying from websites in other EU countries.

"To be simplistic about it, people need to realise that if they are buying a product from the UK, after a no-deal Brexit it's the equivalent of buying from a third country outside the European Union.

"I think you will see a real change in online traffic as a result of that in terms of relying on platforms in the EU rather than the uncertainty that potentially comes from purchasing from the UK," he said.

"Of course on lots of levels that makes no sense because this is our closest neighbour, our closest market. It makes sense to be buying and selling into that market."

Consumers need to be acutely aware of the impact Brexit will have on 'returns'.

The UK will no longer be part of the EU's Digital Single Market and websites will not be obliged to abide by their current policies.

Among the benefits of the EU's Consumer Rights Directive is the entitlement to cancel an order within 14 days of delivery.

The Government's newly published contingency plans note that a disorderly Brexit will "bring uncertainties for both retailers and consumers".

"While e-commerce flows may well continue post-Brexit, e-commerce will be affected due to additional import charges, duty and Vat, along with the administrative costs of export/re-import declarations in relation to returns for retailers.

"Consumers will therefore have to choose where they place their orders," the plan says.

Businesses have also been warned to look at their supply chains amid fears that disruption at ports including Dover and Calais could delay imports.

Irish Independent

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