Pressure on Treasury

Forbes backs call to retain tax-free visitor shopping

high street shopping at Easter

Retailers say the change will be another blow (pic: Terry Murden)

Retailers and the Scottish Finance Secretary are urging the Treasury to reverse its decision to end tax-free shopping for international visitors.

The Scottish Retail Consortium argues that the VAT Retail Export Scheme encourages high street spending from international tourists visiting Scotland and the rest of the UK.

A decision to scrap the scheme from January is expected to deliver a further blow to hard-pressed high streets.

Last month the SRC wrote to the UK and Scottish governments and last week raised the matter directly with Ministers from the Scotland Office and Scottish Government.

The Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said in a written parliamentary answer that she shares the concerns of the Scottish retail and tourism industries over the ‘abrupt’ withdrawal of tax free shopping, which she adds could have substantial implications for the two sectors.

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David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, said: “The UK Government needs to reconsider its decision to scrap the VAT Retail Export Scheme.

“That scheme encourages high street spending from international tourists visiting Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“The Finance Secretary’s comments are a timely and welcome intervention in support of city centres. 

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