We hope that you all had a fabulous Christmas and new year within the constraints of what we were all allowed this year.
This blog isn’t a self-congratulatory message about past achievements, instead, it’s a quick request for your help in the quiet time between Christmas and New Year. Don’t worry, it’s not asking for oodles of your time, donations or filament, we just need a couple of minutes to please sign the attached petition to help get our VAT back:
Why? – If you’re already signed up to 3D Crowd. you might have seen our previous messages referencing a disagreement with the ‘VAT man’ (person). In short, they’re applying very subjective criteria to decide that the £11,000 we paid in VAT, is not refundable because we gave the shields away for free, instead of charging the NHS for them!
If we’d charged and walked off with £22m in commission or if we’d had no capability but been best mates with a minister we’d have a big fat contract and we could have had the VAT back but doing the right thing – nope.
We have gone through the appeals process and they are still refusing. The only official way to proceed now would be to go to a tribunal, which would cost tens of thousands in legal and accountancy fees, which we don’t have. We tried several arguments which HMRC discarded out of hand and were even advised by a former tax inspector, who said the actions we’d already taken should have been enough to get the money back. A quick summary, (anyone wanting a longer description can have it, but we want to keep this email short):-
- Research and Development – they said they hadn’t seen any feedback despite being told that the BSi required it and they were welcome to it. The vaccines needed to be tested on tens of thousands of people before supplying it – we applied the same criteria.
- Gifts – HMRC said the face shields we provided didn’t count as promotional – despite our information being on stickers and instructions and obviously, no one caring where the face shield came from that they were desperate for and the Government weren’t able to provide.
- There is even a special department (NIRU) of HMRC to allow claims on imports of materials but only if they were provided for free to the NHS. Oddly, ‘Made in the UK’ isn’t allowed – Aside from everything else mentioned, they are essentially discouraging UK manufacturing which really isn’t a good look.
- We even agreed with a few recipients to charge them for shields, which should have allowed us to claim the VAT back, but they objected to that too (but curiously HMRC have now told us we owe them £4,000, without any evidence at all).
- Moral argument – yeah well, we didn’t expect HMRC to show a conscience either but we figured Christmas – ‘time for miracles’ – considering the rest of the year, we were due one.
So, we’re trying the only avenue left to us – try to gain enough attention that our petition goes viral and the court of public opinion forces the Government and HMRC to do the right thing – refund the money we spent on bailing them out and stop them from making a profit on incompetence. This isn’t a political argument left vs right, Labour vs Conservative, it’s a right vs wrong one – we’re right, they’re wrong.
We are hoping that the 3D Crowd community, their friends and family, not to mention the frontline workers who have worn our face shields can do enough collectively to force a response and a hundred thousand signatures would mean they can’t sweep us under the rug. Please help us by signing and getting the message out to others via any method open to you; talking, zooming, tweeting and liking.
Finally, why we need the money. 3D Crowd has grown into an organisation that hopes to contribute in a lasting and positive change through the use of 3D Printing. Whether it be disaster relief, prosthetics, PPE, ventilators, bioreactors or the thousands of other things that 3D printers can help with. 3D Printing and distributing over 200,000 face shields was a fantastic achievement but we want to do so much more and the £11,000 in VAT money would enable us to do it.
One day after officially launching our petition, we have already gained 1,085 signatures (29/12/2020). However, we need 10,000 signatures for an official government response and 100,000 for it to be considered for debate in Parliament.
The Admin team