The Guardian, BBC and others have covered an unfolding story of massive VAT evasion as a result of distance selling from China (and maybe other locations) into the UK and other EU countries using false VAT numbers or incorrect disclosure of the value of goods on import to evade tax owing in this and other countries.
Third, the question then arises as to whether or not the VAT can be recovered. Since it is highly unlikely that customers of either Amazon or eBay knew or even had any reason to think that they were party to VAT fraud UK law as it has stood since 2006 seems to entirely protect them from liability under what is known as the Kittel Principle.
Hmm, so, what is actually being alleged?
Customs officers are aware that some overseas sellers are under-declaring the value of goods shipped to the UK and other European destinations in order to qualify for VAT exemptions on low-value packages.
“You’re getting packages which the [online] customer might have paid €100 [£70] for. And they’re coming in [through customs] identified as €20, or as gifts. And that’s the abuse,” said the source, who has close knowledge of the subject.
That customs invoice will be seen by the consumer. Thus the consumer knows. ‘T’ain’t Amazon, is it, who never sees that invoice.