Two businessmen, including Uri Levine, the former President of Waze (the navigation software application), have launched their application known as “Refundit” in Belgium.
It enables tourists visiting Belgium to use their mobile phone to be “easily” reimbursed VAT paid on goods purchased. Belgium has thus become the first country to offer an entirely digital solution to recover such monies.
Owing to bureaucracy and long queues, “…nearly 90% of the total VAT reimbursements due – €23 billion – are never returned to their rightful recipients,” said Ziv Tirosh, the co-founder of the system. Refundit operates with a 9% transaction commission.
Refundit “relieves both tourists and shopkeepers of queues and unproductive paperwork,” stressed the company’s communiqué.
Non-European tourist visitors in a European Union (EU) country are eligible for a VAT reimbursement (21%). The minimum reimbursement total is fixed at 50 euros.
Presently reimbursement involves tourists undertaking something of an obstacle course: long queues at a counter, acquainting themselves with complex administrative formalities and, “…ultimately, still not being sure of recovering the money due to them. The problem of VAT recovery stems from the absence of traceability in the process,” said Refundit.
In practical terms, it falls to tourists to apply for reimbursement using their mobile phone, which enables the relevant VAT administrators to approve the reimbursement entirely electronically.
“Of all EU member states, Belgium was the fastest and the most innovative in the sphere,” says Mr Tirosh. A pilot project is currently underway at Brussels Airport. The next country to offer the application will be Slovakia.
The Brussels Times