Waze Creator Launching VAT Refunding App, Will Reduce Hassle for Tourists

Israeli tax refund startup ReFundit, founded by Waze co-founder Uri Levine and by CEO Ziv Tirosh, is preparing to launch a joint pilot in several European countries.

Levine announced in a press conference on Monday that the launch will begin in Slovakia, which is also the first country where Waze succeeded.

After his success with the Waze navigation app, sold to Google for more than $1 billion in 2013, Levine’s new focus with ReFundit is to help navigate the tiresome VAT refund process and make it more efficient for tourists.

More than 50 countries allow visitors to get refunds for value-added tax (VAT) placed on goods and services. In Europe, VAT on clothing, electronics and toys ranges between 17% and 27% of the price. However in order to get a VAT refund approved, tourists must go through a process at the airport that can include waiting on long lines, presenting purchase receipts, filling out forms, and sometimes not even getting the money back in the end.

“Every person I tell about this has horror stories about the hour-long line at customs, filling out the wrong forms, getting to a closed customs counter, etc.,” Levine said in a statement announcing the app. “As a result, around 90% of VAT refunds, some 23 billion euro, doesn’t reach tourists’ pockets. Our mission is to make sure they get what’s rightfully theirs.”

Using the ReFundit app, the VAT refund process is digital. Tourists can scan their invoices and submit VAT refund requests before arriving to the airport. Tax authorities will then send a digital approval. According to the statement, tourists will be asked to stop at the customs counter only under special circumstances.

Tourists will receive the full amount due, minus Refundit’s commission of around 9%-10%, which is “by far the lowest in the industry”, Tirosh told Times of Israel.

The newly digitized process will also benefit tax authorities, which will be able to collect and use big data for analytics, fraud protection, as well as attract more tourists and increase their spending. They will be also benefit from providing visitors with more efficient service, the statement said.

(via Israel21c )

[Photo: ETF Easy Tax Free / YouTube ]