Greece: Reduced VAT Rate Comes into Effect on Monday
Following previous news regarding VAT reduction in Greece for tea, coffee and other beverages on supermarket shelves that are being cut from 24 percent to 13 percent, Greece has now updated this and has announced that they will be adding several other items to this lower rate of tax which will also include items that are sold at restaurants and cafes. Products that have been added to the lower VAT bracket include olive oil, meat and fish, cocoa and standardized non-fresh foods. These changes will come into effect as from next week Monday.
There will also be a cut in electricity and gas bills too, which is subject to 6 percent VAT rather than 13 percent.
Amazon introduces new flight booking service in India
On Saturday, Amazon announced that people in India can now use their service to book their domestic flights in addition to shopping, money transfers, utility payments and mobile charges via their app. Amazon partnered up with Cleartrip an online travel and leisure activities platform, which helped bring the idea to fruition. Amazon declared that they would not charge consumers additional charges for ticket cancellations; however, they would need to pay the airline cancellation fee. Customers can find this feature on the Amazon app and website by locating the flights icon on the Amazon pay page.
“We’re delighted to add domestic flight bookings enabling customers to do more with their Amazon mobile app and for prime members to get more value from their membership”, (Shariq Plasticwala, Director, Amazon Pay).
Amazon withdraws 33 products Due to Protest
On Friday Amazon -.com was forced to remove 33 products from its site due to products that were deemed offensive to the Hindu community which led to several Lakh citizens logging their protest online on Change,org. Furthermore, #BoycottAmazon trended on Twitter with over 33,000 tweets.
E-commerce Giant Amazon was selling products such as toilet rugs that featured a painting of Lord Genesha, commode covers with Lord Shiva and sandals with photos of Mahatma Gandhi on its international site Amazon.com which were supplied by foreign sellers.
This isn't the first time that Amazon has been under fire for selling products online that have offended the Indian community. In 2017 Amazon's Canadian arm was selling doormats that had the Indian flag on it, and during the same year, Union Minister Rajinath Singh threatened the US company with FIR if they continued selling skateboards with images of Lord Ganesha on them.
Business: Amazon Cause Uproar after Investing In Food Delivery Service Deliveroo
E-Commerce giant Amazon has caused a stir after investing $575 million in UK-based food delivery service Deliveroo. Unsettlement has arisen as a result of the fact that it is not certain what Amazon plan to do with their new partnership with Deliveroo – analysts have speculated that the investment could potentially lead to a complete takeover by Amazon. The investment means that the total amount of cash raised by Deliveroo now totals at $1.5 billion. Despite the controversy, the food delivery company’s owner, Will Shu, has described Amazon as an “inspiration” and has said that Deliveroo “look forward to working with such a customer-obsessed organisation.”
E-Commerce: Sustainable Shopping Platform Loop Launches In France
Loop, a sustainable e-commerce service which was created by recycling giant TerraCycle, has launched in France. The platform sells all of its products in multi-use containers and its purpose is to reduce the amount of waste from packaging. A number of major manufacturers have already partnered with Loop, and these include Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The process of ordering with Loop also helps consumers to become more sustainable, as the products are delivered to customers in containers made of sustainable materials, and then when the containers are empty customers can have them picked up and replenished.
VAT: Switzerland to Relax VAT Compliance Rules For Non-Resident Taxpayers
The Swiss Federal Tax Authority is planning on loosening the current rules imposed on foreign taxpayers who register for VAT in Switzerland. Currently, non-resident businesses that pass the income threshold of CHF 100,000 and provide taxable supplies in Switzerland are required to register for VAT in Switzerland. As part of the registration process, it is mandatory to provide all details relating to their global income. It is this rule that is going to be relaxed, and The Swiss Tax Authority are adjusting this requirement so that those registering for VAT only have to provide details of their Swiss earnings.
Greece: VAT Reduction on Coffee and Beverages
On Monday the Finance Minister Katerina Papanatsiou declared that they would be introducing two separate VAT rates on coffee and other beverages in Greece. The value-added tax on coffee, tea and other beverages available on supermarket shelves is dropping from 24% to 13%. However, the VAT reduction is excluded from eateries and other food service operations, which will be charged at 24%.
Greece’s Finance Minister Euclid Tsakkalotos states “Unfortunately there is no fiscal space to reduce the VAT for served drinks in catering facilities”.
Germany’s Delivery Service Eatclever Expands to UK
Renowned Dutch food delivery service Eatclever is expanding its region. The start-up business is currently operating in over 60 cities across Germany and for the first time, the company is going overseas, making the UK its second international market. The company was founded by Mohamed Chain, Robin Himmels, and their co-founder Marco Langhoff who jointly set up Eatclever in 2015. Eatclever provides consumers with healthy nutritious dishes that are provided by nutrition experts and chefs and is delivered by local suppliers. The service is already available in Zurich, Switzerland, but with its expansion, to the UK, the company wants to stimulate growth. The business is set to operate in London with aims of targeting additional UK cities in the future.
AliExpress Introduces Pay Later Option to Customers in Europe
As from today, AliExpress customers across Netherlands, Germany, Finland and Austria can benefit from choosing when and how they wish to pay for their goods, thanks to AliExpress’s partnership with Klarna and AliExpress’payment service provider Ayden. The collaboration between all three companies will enable customers to pay for their products at a later date. According to all three payment companies, this is just the first phase of the partnership as they aim to target additional markets later this year.
Michael Ruse, CCO at Klarna say that he is happy with the partnership as it gives customers more control over how they wish to pay for their goods at the checkout. Moreover, he also adds that he is looking forward to expanding this partnership into different markets. Cheer Zhang of AliExpress, says that they are always looking for innovating ways to develop the customer experience.
Tax: Hungary to Trial Standard Audit File for Tax (SAF-T)
The Standard Audit File for Tax (SAF-T) system was developed to give tax authorities the ability to easily access information from taxpayers and allow effective tax inspections to be carried out. It is currently being used in 9 EU countries and it is mandatory in Poland as part of the VAT return filing cycle. The Hungarian Tax Authority is now considering implementing the system in Hungary and they have spoken about launching a pilot for SAF-T. The pilot is due to trial at the start of 2020 and SAF-T will potentially launch fully into operation in 2021.
E-Commerce: Belgium Online Markets Dominated By Amazon and Foreign Businesses
The Ecommerce Foundation has carried out research into the revenue of Belgium’s major online retailers and has found that the online marketplaces with the highest turnover rates are foreign to Belgium. For example, out of the top 10 retailers with the highest turnovers, the top 3 are Amazon, Coolblue (a Dutch e-commerce giant) and in first place is Bol.com (also Dutch). In fact, Amazon have proven to be successful in Belgian e-commerce, as three of their platforms fall into the top 10 retailers with the highest turnovers - Amazon.de in 9th place, Amazon.com in 6th, and Amazon.fr in 3rd place.
E-Commerce: Artificial Intelligence Benefits eBay’s Global Trade
Professors of marketing at Olin Business School in St Louis have carried out research and found a positive correlation between the use of Artificial Intelligence and Economic Growth. Using data from eBay collected in 2014, the researchers studied trade data from before and after eBay implemented a new AI-driven translation service. The service improved translation quality by about 10%, and the research that was carried out demonstrated that this improvement increased trade between countries on eBay by 10.9%. This is evidence to support that artificial intelligence is beneficial to trade, and the researches have said that “Improved machine translation has made the eBay world significantly more connected.”
Luxembourg VAT Fraud Investigation
An estimated 50 Billion euros in tax money goes missing from EU countries each year due to VAT fraud. A cross border investigation stipulates that Luxembourg plays a part in this massive scale fraud. According to “Grand Theft Europe”, which is an investigation conducted by 63 journalists from 30 countries coordinated by research centre corrective.org. The article cites an example of a man called Amir Baha (whose name has been changed for the article), who became a multimillionaire off selling mobile phones, game consoles and CO2 emissions certificates overseas without paying VAT. This is known as “VAT carousel” whereby one person purchases a product from another country at 0% Vat and sells it on in another country along with a 19% sub-charge. However, instead of passing the surcharge on to the tax office, the seller keeps it for themselves. This practice started 25 years ago and is known to be widespread.
According to Luxembourg Journalist Lauren Schimit, the 18 strong Luxembourg anti-fraud department is struggling to tackle this issue which is just one part of their job, and stresses that there needs to be more co-operation between member states on tax issues to help overcome this problem.
Amazon offers employees a business proposition if they leave their jobs
Following Amazon’s plans to speed up its shipping time from two days to one for its Prime members, Amazon has decided to offer its employees a proposition by asking them to quit their job, and in return, they will help the employees start up a business delivering for Amazon. The programme is open to full-time, and part-time employees including warehouse workers, and those who qualify for the program will be covered for up to $10,000 in start-up costs and receive three months of their salary from Amazon. The new employee incentive is part of a program that Amazon introduced last year that lets anyone apply to launch an independent Amazon delivery business, which is to help the company take more control of managing their deliveries rather than relying on carriers.
Amazon’s Vice President John Felton, president of global delivery, stated that over more than 200 Amazon delivery firms had been created since the launch of the programme last year
Electronic Marketplaces to Submit VAT Returns on Behalf of Sellers
With the introduction of the “Growth Decree,” there’s been a few changes that have been adopted by the Italian Government which will affect VAT treatment for electronic marketplaces such as being responsible for VAT submission, tax due on distance sales which are the ones that resonate the most. Therefore e-commerce market places shall submit VAT returns to the tax authority on behalf of its online sellers and should be submitted by July 2019. Also, by not abiding the new regulation, electronic marketplaces will be held responsible for the tax due on distance sales unless they can prove that the supplier had already paid the fee. Although the provisions of Legislative Decree 135/2018 apply only to distance sales of mobiles phones, laptops, tablets, PCs and game consoles, those of the DL 34/2019 apply for distance sales of any type of goods, if made through online platforms.
Amazon Introduces Click-and-Collect Counters in the UK & Italy
Amazon have partnered with UK retail giant #Next plc to introduce a delivery option which allows customers to retrieve their parcels from Amazon Click-and-Collect counters within 500 Next outlets across Britain. This new service is going to be named ‘Counter’ and it is being put into action following requests from European consumers for more convenient click-and-collect locations. Amazon has also teamed up with several major retail outlets in Italy, including bookstore operator Giunti, to integrate ‘Counter’ into their stores. Patrick Supanc, the director of lockers and pickup at Amazon, has said “There is a strong tradition of click-and-collect in both the U.K. and Italy and the plan is to roll Counter out further across Europe".
VAT: Spain Plans To Reduce VAT Rate Of e-Books To 4%
Like Belgium and Germany, Spain is following the agreement made by the #EU Council last year to harmonize the VAT rate of electronic books with physical books. As the VAT rate on e-Books is currently 21% and printed books have a reduced rate of 4%, Spain is cutting VAT on e-Books to make it so that they also follow reduced VAT rules. Since the agreement was put into action last year, nearly ten EU states have implemented the reduced rates on their digital publications. The measure is part of Spain’s four year fiscal plan, and must be approved by parliament first.
VAT: Greece Owes Over Half a Billion in VAT
According to data from the Independent Authority for Public Revenue, the Greek government owes taxpayers 580 million Euros in tax rebates. This is a decrease from the 891 million Euros’ worth of tax rebates that were owed in January 2017. The majority of the current debts owed are a result of disputes or inspections that have prevented them from being processed. In response to these findings, Greece's tax administration has said that it aims to accelerate payment of the owed VAT to taxpayers.
Online retailer eBay is setting up a brick and mortar store in Wolverhampton, England which will provide small business with the opportunity to sell their merchandise over one month. There will be 40 businesses participating in eBay's Retail Revival programme which is an experiment to help small companies take better advantage of the opportunities online and harmonise the relationship between local shops and e-commerce. eBay confirmed that business participating in the programme have exceeded 2 million in sales just six months from their inception and have benefited from a range of training programmes provided by eBay. eBay is encouraging other companies to take advantage of its free interactive workshops and training seminars.
Rob Hatterell, Vice President of eBay in the UK states that “The small retailers taking part in Wolverhampton’s retail revival have already shown that physical and online retail can thrive together.
Alibaba Extends E-commerce Service Outside of China
China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba is set to offer its services to customers outside of China who wish to sell goods on its platform. AliExpress enables small to medium-sized business in China to sell products overseas in over 150 countries. Alibaba has now extended its services to companies in Italy, Russia, Spain and Turkey, and hope to further extend its services to other international markets in the future. Alibaba’s global expansion is to compete with the worlds’ largest online retailer Amazon. However, Alibaba’s presence in China is unrivalled, and they are expected to surpass the US this year as the biggest retail market in the world.
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