17 October update
On 17 October, the new Chancellor of The Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, brought forward a number of measures from the late October Medium-Term Fiscal Plan. These reversed most of the changes that had been announced by his predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng, on 23 September.
Since the UK left the EU at the end of 2020, VAT-free shopping has only been available in Northern Ireland.
As part of its plan for growth, the government has committed to reintroducing a VAT-free shopping scheme to Great Britain. This would enable non-UK visitors to Great Britain to obtain a VAT refund on goods bought in the high street, airports and other departure points and exported from the UK in their personal baggage. The proposal is intended to provide a boost to the high street and create jobs in the retail and tourism sectors.
The scheme currently operating in Northern Ireland is largely paper based. The new scheme for Great Britain will be digital and the Northern Ireland scheme will be modernised. A consultation will gather views on the approach and design of the scheme, which the government says will be delivered “as soon as possible”.
It remains to be seen whether HMRC will be given additional resource to urgently build another new digital system while also working on projects such as MTD ITSA and the Single Trade Window.
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