Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Due a VAT refund from Google Adwords

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Google Adwords telling me that they'd reviewed by Google Adwords account and decided that my VAT setting was incorrect as my account was being used for business purposes (i.e. I was using Adwords to "gain an economic advantage by promoting goods or services on Google AdWords") rather than non-business purposes.

According to Google I had either declared that my adwords account was being used for non-business purposes (unlikely) or that I had not entered a VAT number (definitely the case as I'm not VAT registered). As a result of this VAT was being charged on my Google Adwords Adverts at the Irish rate (21%) as all EU customers are managed from Google Ireland Ltd (EU).

The email then went on to explain that under article 194 of European Council Directive 2006/112/EC as a non-Irish resident business I should be responsible for accounting for VAT in my home country, and thus Adwords have ceased charging me Irish VAT on my Adwords adverts.

Finally the email concluded with telling me that I may be eligible for a refund of Irish VAT charged by Google Ireland Ltd that I had errantly paid.

Digging into the Adwords help files I found a definition of whether Adwords is being used for business purposes or not, whether VAT applies to Adwords or not which also said that "Advertisers with a business address in the EU, but outside Ireland, may self-assess VAT at their Member State's local rate if they are using Google AdWords for business purposes", and finally instructions on how to declare for self assessment of VAT within Google Adwords.

I did find this all somewhat confusing as there's no easy way of making a VAT self-declaration in the UK as my rental income turnover is considerably below the annual VAT threshold.

Potential eligibility for a VAT refund was triggered by me checking my VAT details on my Adwords account and basically confirming that the account's 'company name' matched the name held on my bank account as this is who any refund cheque would be made payable to.

Well not really expecting much from it I duly verified my company name details and today was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Google Adwords telling me that I am eligible for a refund of past VAT charged by Google Ireland to the tune of £67.90.

Very nice!

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