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Value-added tax (similar to sales tax) is called IVA (for Impuesto sobre el valor añadido) in Spain. It is levied on services, such as hotels and restaurants, and on consumer products. When in doubt about whether tax is included, ask, "Está incluido el IVA ("ee-vah")?"
The IVA rate for hotels and restaurants is 7%. Menus will generally say at the bottom whether tax is included (IVA incluido) or not (más 7% IVA). While food and basic necessities are taxed at the lowest rate, most consumer goods are taxed at 16%. In shops displaying the Tax-Free Shopping sticker, non–EU citizens can request a Tax-Free Cheque on purchases of at least €90.15. This Cheque must be stamped at the airport customs office. After this is done, present it to one of the Caixa or Banco de España offices in the airport. The bank issues a certified check or credits the amount to your credit card.
Global Refund is a Europe-wide service with 225,000 affiliated stores and more than 700 refund counters at major airports and border crossings. Its refund form, called a Tax-Free Cheque, is the most common across the European continent. The service issues refunds in the form of cash, check, or credit-card adjustment.
Global Refund (800/566-9828. www.globalrefund.com.)
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