19 October 2018
France grants a 12 percent sales tax refund to overseas tourists, but a Hong Kong traveler surnamed Wong failed to get his. Photos: Reuters,, Metro Daily
France grants a 12 percent sales tax refund to overseas tourists, but a Hong Kong traveler surnamed Wong failed to get his. Photos: Reuters,, Metro Daily

HK tourist denied tax refund after shopping in France

A Hong Kong traveler to Paris was denied a tax refund amounting to 4,200 euros (US$4,580) after following the instructions of personnel at the Charles De Gaulle Airport.

The traveler, surnamed Wong, bought Louis Vuitton goods worth 35,000 euros during his trip to France in April this year, Metro Daily reported on Friday.

As an overseas tourist, he was entitled to a 12 percent sales tax refund for his purchases, which amounted to 4,200 euros.

Wong said he was told by a staff member of Global Blue, a private company in charge of the tourism tax refund, at the airport that he only had to scan his tax refund application documents at a designated machine, instead of having to line up for a physical stamp as he previously did.

After having his documents scanned, Wong decided to line up again for the stamp, fearing that scanning alone would not be sufficient.

But the Global Blue employee yelled at him, “No stamp!”

Wong did not pursue his attempt to get a stamp after he was assured by an airline attendant lining up behind him that there was no need for it under the new procedures adopted by French authorities in April.

After returning to Hong Kong, Wong mailed all the required documents to France to process the tax refund.

However, a reply from the French authorities said his documents were without a stamp and therefore could not be processed.

Wong sought help from the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and was issued a stamp on his documents after a close examination of the papers by its staff.

Wong recalled that there were over a dozen Hong Kong people seeking help on their tax refunds at the time, indicating that many travelers have encountered the same problem.

He mailed the stamped documents to the French Customs, but he was told he had missed the deadline to apply for tax refund, which is six months from the date of purchase.

Wong said the staff at the French consulate general were helpful but those at Global Blue and the French Customs were the complete opposite.

Global Blue insisted it was none of its business and refused to communicate in English. Wong had to ask French-speaking friends for help.

When contacted by Metro Daily, staff at the French consulate general said Wong had failed to perform the required scanning before leaving France, and that he missed out on the six-month period for filing the tax refund.

The consulate general said it was sorry that Wong could not have his tax refund processed but added the final decision was with the French Customs.

Wong said both the consulate general and French Customs were lying, noting that they simply did not want to process the tax refund.

France is the world’s second-largest consumer market for luxury goods after New York.

According to a report by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, tax refunds made by overseas tourists in France amounted to 2 billion euros annually.

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