Sorry if this is continuing an unpopular thread with some, but there have been some misleading facts in the postings.
VAT is not universally charged on all goods in the UK. It is only charged by UK vendors who have a turnover of over 54,000 pounds (about 80,000 dollars) and who are registered to charge VAT.This means that the majority of people selling privately are outside the system and VAT is not charged or involved in any way.
Unlike in some states in the US most of our retail prices are quoted including VAT and as someone pointed out the tax can be claimed back on purchases which include the tax but are then taken or sent outside the EEC. No UK or European business should charge VAT on any goods despatched to the US or Canada. If they charge VAT to UK customers, they should deduct the tax off any goods involved at this end.
This really is the most boring posting I've ever made. Can we move onto bikes please?
David Blight in a beautifully sunny but cold Exeter UK.