A cash prize and route to market is up for grabs for any developer who can come up with a simple solution to help small businesses comply with EU VAT Rules introduced in January 2015. Register for the VAT MOSS Hackathon on 13 May and join the effort to help small businesses stay solvent and trading with the EU.

Last week Enterprise Nation released a report looking at the impact of EU VAT rules and called for a Hackathon to find a simple solution to enable small businesses to collect required data and report this to HM Revenue and Customs via the VAT MOSS (Mini One Stop Shop) system.

Today we announce the VAT MOSS Hackathon will take place on Wednesday 13 May, from 5 to 10pm, at KPMG offices in Canary Wharf.

A £1,000 cash prize from KPMG is on offer to the developer who can come up with a solution – as well as support to get the product to market.

The Hackathon is being backed by Coadec and Talent Cupboard who see the power of leveraging technology to find solutions for small businesses that want to continue trading in the EU, but don’t want the cost and admin burden that comes with introduction of the EU VAT rules.

Guy Levin of Coadec said:

'Europe needs an effective Digital Single Market to help startups and small businesses scale across the continent, but recent VAT changes were a big step in the wrong direction. We're hoping that political leaders will respond, but until then it's vital that technical solutions are found to help thousands of small businesses to continue trading in the EU and growing their digital business across borders. That's why we're supporting the Hack in the hope that new ideas will be found.’

It’s free to register for the Hackathon. Refreshments available. Bring your own device and imagination!

Click here to register. 

Have your say

Richard
Richard

As I see it you have a couple of choices. Spend time and energy trying to comply or find a work around, that's what I have done. Changed the sales process slightly and there is no need to comply - not falling fouls of the rules is the easiest way. Second easiest way - convert existing shop to Wordpress and use the WooCommerce shop and solution. Cost virtually nil on most webservers. There are at least one other option. Problem is for most small retailers is that complying with the rules means that the UK VAT threshold is lowered. Therefore making a change to the sales process the preferred option. Can I have my grand now?

Richard PS Not sure how hard Guy wants to make this? The solution exists in at least 3 places.

Emma Jones
Emma Jones

Richard - you only get the prize if you turn up! Seriously though, we don't want a work around, we want to find something that works! And that doesn't require small businesses having to change their website provider etc. We are putting our faith in tech - and that there will be a simple solution. A solution that means businesses can keep selling 'and' easily comply. Thanks for your comment and would be great to welcome you on 13th.

Emma Jones
Emma Jones

Richard - you only get the prize if you turn up! Seriously though, we don't want a work around, we want to find something that works! And that doesn't require small businesses having to change their website provider etc. We are putting our faith in tech - and that there will be a simple solution. A solution that means businesses can keep selling 'and' easily comply. Thanks for your comment and would be great to welcome you on 13th.

Richard
Richard

I don't understand, if you want the problem solved there are two options above. Not trying to be pedantic, but that is what I have given you. Being in business, any kind of business necessitates change from time to time, this is one of those. Life is too short to reinvent the wheel. You have three solutions above, all of these will work. By complying you automatically have to increase prices of a product by at least the rate of VAT in the UK this will impact sales. A workaround means prices remain the same, and secondly it's available now, and there is an out of the box solution. Best not to overcomplicate things. What is there to show that the solution created on the day will work on their webservers? And with hosting so cheap it's a simple move. Focusing on solutions without trying to reinvent the wheel. I wish you well on your day - but remember life is short!

Pippa
Pippa

What is the format of the evening please?

John
John

Could you outline the problem please?

Diego
Diego

I just got informed about the VAT MOSS hackathon, and I have a question. I won't have the possibility to come to London, as I'm based in Ireland, but I have already developed a solution that allows small businesses to be conpliant with the new regulations, without having to pay anything. I've been using it myself for months now, and it greatly reduces the effort required to be compliant with the new regulations.

My solution is designed for WooCommerce, which is one of the leading ecommerce solutions on the market (it's the WordPress-based ecommerce platform with the largest market share, and it's used by countless small businesses), and it's available free of charge, with all features included, since December 2014. I developed it myself from the ground up, after collecting all the information I could get from each of the 28 EU countries. I released it as a free product because I wanted to help as many people as possible with the new, complicated rules. Would that qualify to be reviewed as a possible solution for your purpose?

Diego
Diego

I don't think it would be possible to implement a universal solution that can work for everybody and that doesn't involve any change in the business. There are already SaaS options, but their recurring cost is not an incentive for small merchants. I developed a free solution for WooCommerce, which has been available since the beginning of December 2014, and it's already in use by thousands of small merchants. It doesn't involve changing anything. It's as "plug & play" as I could make it, and it works quite well.

Diego
Diego

I won't be able to come to the Event in London, but I'm available to answer any questions you might have about the solution I designed. The logic behind it is fairly straightforward, it should be reusable and adaptable as needed.

Burble
Burble

The problem is only partly technical - and even then the technical solution will vary greatly between individual checkout implementations. The main problem is having to become VAT-registered, or avoiding it by having to hand over a significant chunk of your checkout system to a third party (with monthly fees and/or a cut of sales). The only practical solution for nano-businesses hit by this is political, moving the VAT threshold to take us out of having to spend thousands to comply just to send 20p of our tax to a different government. Although your sentiment is admirable, the idea that a universal solution can be found in a 5 hour hackathon is frankly laughable; your money and efforts would be better spent supporting those who are lobbying politicians for change.

Burble
Burble

The problem is only partly technical - and even then the technical solution will vary greatly between individual checkout implementations. The main problem is having to become VAT-registered, or avoiding it by having to hand over a significant chunk of your checkout system to a third party (with monthly fees and/or a cut of sales). The only practical solution for nano-businesses hit by this is political, moving the VAT threshold to take us out of having to spend thousands to comply just to send 20p of our tax to a different government. Although your sentiment is admirable, the idea that a universal solution can be found in a 5 hour hackathon is frankly laughable; your money and efforts would be better spent supporting those who are lobbying politicians for change.

Emma Jones
Emma Jones

Thanks for your comments. In response:

@Burble - we have not given up on lobbying for political change and asking for a single threshold. You can see that in the report we published but if political change takes a while, we'd like to find a solution in the interim. @Diego - could you kindly send details of your solution to emma at enterprise nation.com so we can share etc? @John - check out this post https://www.enterprisenation.com/blog/posts/hmrc-eu-vat-rule-assessment-underestimated-impact-by-340-000-says-enterprise-nation-report for more details on the issue @Pippa - we'll be publishing the format of the evening in the coming week. It's from 5 to 10pm. Thanks, all! Emma

Pippa
Pippa

Thanks Emma. To back up Diego, I think there's a probably a lot of good developers who could come up with solutions but couldn't get to central London with a week or so's notice. Could there be a bit of a more accessible event?

Susan
Susan

Surely if there was a simple solution someone would have found it by now. The demand in the marketplace for a solution is there. A developer who could meet that demand would make a fortune. In one sense it might be a good idea if this event failed. I don't mean that in an unpleasant way. If a determined effort to find a solution does not work then it would provide evidence of the impossibility of the situation that online micro-businesses find themselves in. On the other hand, putting on an event like this proves to politicians that someone is doing something to dealing with the situation in the way that they want it to be. However, that is all the more reason to scrutinise the results very carefully to see if they really do enable as many people as possible to comply with the law. Sometimes we achieve more in the overall scheme of things by proving something cannot be done. Thank you for willing to be the one who is willing to face that possibility.

Ronika Varma
Ronika Varma

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