Volume 58, Number 4, April 2021
A taxing problem BEFORE I start this month’s editorial “comment” I need to stress that when it comes to any type of financial advice we at Token Publishing Ltd are NOT qualified or regulated nor are we tax lawyers, and anything we say in regard to finances, investments, tax laws, etc. is purely our opinion. If you want or need proper advice on these things please seek out either a tax lawyer or an investment advisor who is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Right, now I have that out of the way I can put to you the question that was put to me by reader “PM” recently—which was thus: “I collect Central European coins, and therefore most of my buying is done with European firms. I’m pretty sure that if I buy under current (immediate post-Brexit) circumstances, I’ll be landed with additional customs duties and VAT charges on top of the purchase price, but have been unable to find out anything clear on the topic from HMRC. I’ve also asked the people I buy from but they seem unwilling to get involved or don’t know the answer. I wonder if it might be possible to ask in a future issue about readers’ experiences with buying coins from Europe at present? One intriguing possibility is connected with the influence of an object’s origin on extra charges: I read somewhere that anything whose origin is “completely within the EU” might have some degree of exemption. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find anything else on this, but it raises the intriguing possibility that, if dealers knew whether, historically, the silver used to mint a European coin was mined within the EU, the coin itself might have some exemption”. So that’s the question, what are the current rules on buying coins post-Brexit? Do our readers know? Can anyone help PM? He’s right about there not being much definitive advice on the subject, the best we could find was in regard to “antiques” which stated that items over 100 years old were exempt from certain duties and had a reduced level of VAT, but that advice was last updated last year so doesn’t necessarily take in to account recent changes. To be honest I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t know the answer to PM’s question but then I asked myself why I would—my collecting interests are British coins, shillings and sovereigns mainly, and whilst I know that silver and platinum bullion coins attract VAT and gold bullion coins don’t, and that British legal tender coins have no Capital Gains Tax liability attached to them that’s the extent of my tax knowledge. I don’t tend to think of my coins in terms of tax and duty, I just buy them if I like them and pay the price asked; I haven’t really given much thought to selling them on either so the whole “tax liability” issue hasn’t really come up. On top of this I rarely buy coins from overseas anyway and on the very odd occasion that I have done so I have never had an issue with import duties or VAT, but I’ve never asked myself why. Should I have incurred charges but somehow slipped through the net? Quite possibly—but generally if I have purchased from somewhere “abroad” it has been because I was excited about a particular coin and hadn’t been able to find it over here, this being the case I would probably have stumped up any extras asked of me anyway. So whilst I must apologise to PM for not being able to answer his question definitively I have a good reason for my ignorance. However, I would like to be more knowledgeable on this subject if possible so it’s over to you, please do tell us of your experiences and, if you are an FCA regulated advisor or a tax lawyer, please let us have something a little more official if you can (or point us in the right direction), it would be very useful to your fellow collectors—and, I confess, to me too!
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