I should have known better when I said in the last issue that the ghost of VAT on top-ups was laid to rest. It has come back to haunt me, more like.
First I said it was payable on the commission, then I said it wasn't. All my information was based on the good authority of others, I might add, those who actually work as suppliers to this market.
It turns out I've been wrong twice so here goes, my attempt to get it right (or wrong) for a third time.
Listen carefully, I will say this only once more. There is VAT payable on commission on top-ups. Gordon Brown spotted a stealth tax opportunity in 2003 which he duly added to his budget, overruling the VAT HQ decision of 2000 which said no VAT was required.
Umpteen retailers have contacted me to query why their supplier is still showing the VAT element on their self-billing invoices, but I am indebted to Vinay Kanani, general manager at 3R Telecom, for the full explanation.
Mr Brown, says Kanani, ruled that VAT is payable as output tax on commission from all electronic transfers, including money such as luncheon vouchers. He is currently waiting for the VAT office to put this in writing.
One question, though. Why doesn't this octopus called Alphyra, PayZone, PostTS or Triton know this? The group has a whole department looking after invoicing, and while part of its group was showing the VAT element on invoices, another part was not, and its finance department was still quoting the 2000 ruling.
Tch. I guess the left hand just doesn't know what the right hand, or the middle hand, or the outside hand or the...well, you get my drift.
As David Symons, who runs Today's Convenience Store at Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, puts it: "When I get a self-billing invoice from Alphyra it has the PayZone logo top right. At the bottom is has the PostTS website and the direct debit goes to Triton Payment Services."
I also complained about not being able to get through directly to Alphyra and this struck a chord with many of my callers.
But, as the man from 3R says: "I like the issue of these companies not picking up the phone. 3R Telecom prides itself on excellent customer service. If you call during office hours up to 6pm you will get a technical person picking up the phone."
If you want to know more, call 01992 574 650.

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