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Paris Restaurants to Drop VAT from 19.6% to 5.5%

In case you hadn’t heard the good news, eating out in Paris is about to get cheaper – much cheaper – thanks to a reduction in the VAT. The VAT, or Value Added Tax, is one of those additional numbers at the bottom of a restaurant check or hotel bill that many travelers either don’t notice or give up trying to figure out. In some cases there are purchases for which you can get reimbursed for paying the VAT as a tourist, but again, most travelers don’t bother with the paperwork. So a reduction in the VAT is going to be good for everyone.

The VAT in Paris restaurants used to be a whopping 19.6% of the bill – and that’s not a service charge or a tip, either. Starting July 1, 2009, the new VAT will be 5.5% – a tiny number in comparison. This will certainly help cash-strapped travelers who are willing to try just about anything to make their travel budget go further, but the VAT reduction also helps Parisians eat out more cheaply, too. So not only should this drop in the VAT make it easier for tourists to dine in the city’s many bistros and brasseries, it should encourage more locals to eat out as well.

And just in time for the big summer travel season! Thank you, Paris. Or should we say – Merci?

from Arthur Frommer’s blog