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VAT in the Zero-Sum Market

Michael Conlon QC of Pump Court Tax Chambers considers the impact of landmark cases on VAT planning in the retail sector
In his excellent but disturbing editorial in Times Business on 13 September 2006 James Harding reported the woes of French Connection which has moved from profit to loss in the first half of the year. Other retailers are experiencing a downturn in what he describes as the 'zero-sum market'. Consumer pressures mean that in a market of zero-growth if one participant gains another has to lose. The reduction of costs through VAT planning was for many years confined to the partly exempt financial services and property sectors. More recently it has extended to the retail sector. In this article I consider the impact of certain...

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