Tax goes football crazy at 2006 World Cup

Companies are set to miss out on hundreds of millions of pounds in unclaimed
VAT next year, as multinationals pour money into the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The tournament will highlight a longstanding problem for companies, which are
frustrated by tax authorities dragging their feet on claims.

Ann Jones, managing director of Lowendal UK, which processes such claims,
said that with at least half a billion pounds being poured into Germany in
sponsorship and other expenditure, companies including Gillette, Mastercard,
Coca-Cola and Fuji were likely to miss out on substantial tax savings.

VAT is only payable at the point of the end user of a product, and not
earlier in the process. Companies pay the charge as a matter of course, though,
and then reclaim it later. A host of high-profile companies are set to be
heavily involved in the competition.

Tax advisers say that even simple claims in the UK, which has one of the more
advanced schemes for reclaiming VAT in the EU, can take 18 months.

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