Value Added Tax

VAT information for Harvard as a purchaser and as a supplier

Harvard as Purchaser:

  • Harvard does not have a VAT number.
  • In general, Harvard purchasers should not have to pay VAT for goods or services to be used in the US.
  • If a vendor/supplier charges VAT for goods or services to be used in the US, the Harvard purchaser should request that the VAT be removed.
  • If a vendor/supplier does charge VAT, and the purchaser’s request that VAT be removed is not successful, then Harvard should pay the VAT as part of the purchase.
  • There is currently no means of obtaining refunds of VAT that can be distributed back to the original purchase.

The Value Added Tax, or VAT, is a general, broadly based consumption tax assessed in many foreign countries on the value added to goods and services. It applies more or less to all goods and services that are bought and sold for use or consumption in the counties that assess VAT (“VAT Countries”). Thus, goods which are sold for export or services to customers outside of VAT Countries are normally not subject to VAT. Conversely imports to VAT Countries are taxed. VAT is similar to sales tax charged in the US, except that sales tax is only charged to the end consumer, whereas VAT is charged at every level of production and then passed on to the next purchaser. 

Goods and services that Harvard purchases for use in the United States are normally exempt from VAT.  However, goods and services that Harvard purchases for use within a VAT country are generally subject to VAT and we are generally required to pay VAT. Certain items qualify for discounted or exempt VAT charge.  Exempt items are country-specific but common examples include education programs; the printing, publication and sales of books, magazines, newspapers, and maps; and certain non-processed foods.

When Harvard makes an exempt purchase from a VAT Country supplier, it is important to request the exemption at the time of purchase and to keep all relevant receipts.  Contact the Tax Reporting Office for more information

Harvard as Supplier:

If your department is selling goods and services in a foreign country, you may be required to collect and remit VAT. Please contact the Global Support Services Client Service team by clicking here.