osCommerce and the VAT cut

As you have no doubt heard, due to the current economic climate, Chancellor Alistair Darling has announced a cut in VAT fromĀ 17.5% to 15%, during the annual pre-budget report. This will be effective from the 1st of December this year and is expected to last for 13 months. So for shop owners it means a lot of work to relabel their products and reconfigure their tills.

Your osCommerce shop

Of course, if your shop is online, it should be a quick and easy change, and all of your price ‘labels’ will be updated automatically. But a lot of people with osCommerce shops are not sure how to do this, and to be honest, it’s not the most intuitive system.

So to help with the change, we’ve put together a quick guide to changing the tax rate in your osCommerce based online store. If your store is set up correctly, you should be able to offer the new rate in no time at all.

Note: This applies most osCommerce derived systems, so if you have a Zen Cart or CRELoaded store, make sure you read on too.

Update: The following instructions apply if you want to pass on the saving to customers. There are many reasons why you might not want to do this, including the rising cost of delivery and ending up with very odd looking prices. Click here for more information on keeping your prices the same.

To check if your store is set up correctly:

  1. Go to your admin zone
  2. Click on “Locations / Taxes”.
Old-style osCommerce splash page

Old-style osCommerce splash page

The osCommerce location / taxes menu

The osCommerce location / taxes menu

You should have the following:

  1. In your “Countries” page, there should be an entry for the United Kingdom
  2. In the “Tax Zones” page, you should have a Tax Zone folder for the UK or similar, which contains the United Kingdom country (you should see this if you click on it)
  3. In the “Tax Rates” page, you should have a 17.5% tax rate applied to the UK tax zone.
Your current tax rate should look like this

Your current tax rate should look like this

Is this what you see? If not, your tax may not be set up correctly, and it could be difficult to change to the new 15%. Contact us using the panel on the right and describe your current setup, and we can help.

If you are all set up correctly, these are the steps you need to follow:

  1. That last screen mentioned above is the one we need, so go to “Locations / Taxes” -> “Tax Rates” if you are not there already


  1. Click on the tax rate that is assigned to the UK. If you only have one tax rate, you do not need to do this as it will already be selected
  2. Click on edit on the right
  3. Change the tax rate field to say “15” (without quotes)
Changing the osCommerce VAT tax rate

Changing the osCommerce VAT tax rate

  1. You might also want to change the description to include the “15%”, even if you do not currently show the rate in your description. This will reassure customers that you are aware of the change and are passing it on
  2. Click “update”, and you’re done!

Still experiencing problems?

Are you having trouble applying the new rate? We can do it for you! Just contact us using the panel on the right.

Have you applied the change, but are still seeing the VAT unchanged? It may be that your shop has custom modifications or contributions that interact with VAT. These may need tweaking to include the new rate. Use the panel on the right to contact us and we will get a quote to you as a matter of urgency, so that this issue can be resolved as soon as possible.

Keeping your Prices the Same

Of course, you may wish to keep your prices looking the same to your customers. Using the above method means that your customers will be presented with a lower overall price, and this may not be practical. Unfortunately the answer to this is to up all of your base prices, which will mean a demoralising and lengthy trawl through your products in your admin zone.

If you don’t fancy this (and who would), we can do this for you. We will take a complete backup of your database, apply the change directly to the prices in the database, and we will also carry out the changes above to complete the process. The charge for this will be 100GBP plus VAT (We always issue our invoices before work is carried out, so the VAT charge will be whatever the VAT is at the time of issuing the invoice). If you are interested in this service, please ring us on the number to the right or send us an email so that we can discuss timing.

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About Matthew

I joined Inmeres in 2005 as a junior developer. Previously I'd studied a wide variety of subjects as part of my Contemporary Arts BA Honours degree (at Manchester Metropolitan University). This included Drama, Creative Writing and New Media Studies (that'll be the web-oriented one then). My interest in programming piqued, I took a course in programming to get a better handle on the basics (it was actually a VB.net course).

I'm currently heading up the E-Commerce and Search Engine Marketing departments of Inmeres, where we continue to help companies grow their business on the web.

When I'm not at work I read less than I'd like, continue not to learn the guitar (despite having owned one for six years), and manage to play video games regularly. I'm something of an enthusiast and am most relaxed when playing.

Some other 'interesting' things about me Steven and myself are currently growing a bonsai tree in the office (that we have named Akira Kurosawa). It's doing much better than Rob and Dite's tree. Here's a pic: Favourite Podcast: Astronomycast Favourite Food: Chinese Favourite Magazine: Edge (I got a letter printed in issue 189 'cause I'm a geek) Favourite Band: Radiohead. I will see them in concert for the first time in June 2008! Favourite Album: OK Computer

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