4_DiscoverBenelux_Issue17_May_2015_Q9_Scan Magazine 1 28/04/2015 13:11 Page 45
Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Successful Women in Entrepreneurship
Airport, we can sometimes give cash in return for a validated receipt,” Smeenk says.
ellers don’t know they can reclaim their VAT and added to that, globally, VAT rates are the highest in Europe. So there is a lot to be gained,” she says.
From contest to company Smeenk came up with the idea during an entrepreneurial contest just after she finished her Master’s degree. During the week-long challenge she had to write a business plan for which she took inspiration from her uncle, who was living in Tanzania. During his visits back to the Netherlands, it turned out to be a real hassle to claim back the VAT he was owed over the products he purchased and took back to Tanzania. Smeenk: “It involved individual cheques for each rubber stamped loose receipt, so I thought there must be an easier, digitalised way to do this. While tax is not a very ‘sexy’ subject, I decided to look into it and came up with a plan.” This didn’t just land her the title of young Entrepreneur of the year, but also became the foundation for Vatfree.com. “We operate in a growth market because an increasing amount of people travel internationally and across continents. Moreover, around 70 per cent of trav-
A digitalised future At the moment Smeenk and her team are working on an app that will be launched after the summer. With it, customers can get an instant overview of the money they can claim back over their purchases, and it allows shopkeepers to promote their products. But Smeenk is also looking at the long-term future: “Currently we still require customers to send us physical stamped receipts, but we are developing a way to do everything digitally. This would make it even more convenient, so watch this space!” www.vatfree.com
How vatfree.com works: Thanks to Vatfree.com, it is now a lot easier to claim back your VAT after you leave Europe. To get the money you are owed, you need to follow a few simple steps: - Collect all the receipts you have of purchased goods you are taking with you abroad (including online buys) that are above the threshold amount for the country*. - Before you check in at the airport, visit the Tax Free Validation office to validate your receipts and get them stamped. - Register your receipts online at Vatfree.com or visit the Vatfree.com desk in terminal three at Schiphol Airport. Vatfree.com will contact the shops to collect the VAT and then automatically pay back your tax into your account. * Many countries apply a threshold for the minimum amount of money spent in one shop: for example €50 in the Netherlands and €125.01 in Belgium. For more information please call +31 88 828 3733 (+31 88 VAT FREE) or visit www.vatfree.com.
Issue 17 | May 2015 | 45
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.