VAT is an international, multi-stage, transaction tax. This means that there are detailed rules for determining which country gets to levy VAT on cross-border transactions. The consequences of getting it wrong could include double taxation, professional fees to resolve disputes, delays, and tax penalties. Approximately 150 countries (the USA is a notable exception) have a VAT or similar tax. In principle, the 28 (as of 1 July 2013) EU member states share a common VAT system. Countries such as Switzerland follow similar rules, to facilitate free trade with EU partners, but systems in other territories can be radically different.
Even within the EU, detailed rules, and in particular, rules on registration and reporting can vary significantly, and in any case, laws and regulations are constantly evolving.
We can help. Not only are we UK VAT experts, but have extensive experience in advising clients on the VAT treatment of international transactions, and through our membership of JHI, have access to associates in other territories who can assist with VAT registrations, VAT returns and other filings, and local VAT recovery.