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VAT on Google Adwords

Newsletter issue - August 2010.

Google Adwords is a popular form of marketing for getting your website onto the Google search results page. It is an international service for VAT purposes as it is sold to UK businesses by Google Ireland Ltd from Dublin.

If you are a UK business you should not be charged VAT on the cost of the adwords service, as it subject to the reverse charge regulations. This means, if you are VAT registered you need to add VAT at the standard rate applying in the UK to the adwords cost and add the gross cost to both your purchases and sales for the period. You pay the VAT due as if you had made the sale, and you reclaim the VAT due on your purchase of the same service. The net effect for a VAT registered business should be zero, unless it makes VAT exempt sales.

Certain accounting software programmes need some tweaks to cope with the reverse charge mechanism. Please ask us to check your system if you are not confident that it is processing the VAT on adwords costs correctly.

If you have been charged Irish VAT at 21% on your Google adwords, this may be because Google Ireland Ltd has recorded you as being a personal customer, not a business. If you are a UK business, not necessarily VAT registered, you can reclaim this erroneously charged VAT from Google Ireland Ltd. You cannot reclaim this VAT through the international VAT refunds service operated by HMRC as the VAT should not have been charged by Google in the first place. You should not include the Irish VAT on your UK VAT return as it is not correctly charged VAT.

Please contact us if you want further advice about VAT on international services.