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I finally got a “usable” answer from Booking.com. Please see below
Greetings from booking.com.
We have received your query on the VAT amount charged on your invoice
Kindly note that this is a requirement of the South African government to charge VAT to all partners receiving online services regardless of their status or revenues
This was effected for all reservations from 1st April as per regulations
The relevant provisions in relation to this can be found in Value-Added Tax Act 89 of 1991 (the VAT Act1 ) in Government Notice 429 of 18 March 2019 (Updated Regulations).
Commission pricing is different from the VAT charges being introduced. Commission is charged with respect to our GDTs . Refer :Clause 2.3.2
We are required to comply with the regulations and thus the charge on your invoice. Our Tax registration number with TRN prefix can be found on your invoice.
Kindly as well note the below;
a. The tax you input on your guest price is independent to us i.e we do not get any service from the price you input and this is an additional levy on your guest meaning whether you worked with Booking.com or not, you would be required to pay the taxes to SARS (This is also called Input VAT)
b. The VAT we levy you is a result of the service you receive from Booking.com meaning this is only payable if a property works with Booking.com and we are needed to remit this to the government. (This is also called Output VAT)
In effect if you speak with a tax expert, you should be able to get advise on how to balance theses 2 items and either claim the amount from SARS or offset it.
Please let us know if you have any other queries.
Credit Control Team
Double check your invoice.
You will see the room sales amount and the commission amount payable but then you will see on the next line : 15% VAT on the commission. The total amount due will be the commission amount with the VAT amount added. This is incorrect.
The rates and the commission includes VAT. There is not Nett and Gross amount.
Due to South Africa's VAT regulations Booking.com now have to pay VAT. Check your April invoice. Ours had the total commission payable and then they added VAT to the amount. This is incorrect as our rates and our commissions include the 15% VAT
New VAT regulations for electronic services to take effect in April 2019
Foreign intermediaries that facilitate the supply of electronic services (on behalf of the foreign service provider) and who are responsible for invoicing and collecting payment for the electronic services, are also required to register for VAT. In essence, where a foreign service provider uses an intermediary (i.e. a Platform) to supply services to customers located in South Africa, and the Platform is responsible for issuing the invoice and collecting the payment in respect of the supply of the services, the Platform is “deemed” to be the provider of the electronic services. It is the Platform and not the foreign service provider that would be liable to register as a VAT vendor in South Africa.