Shopify International Taxes Explained — Bezos

December 6, 2023
13 min read

A Guide to Shopify International Taxes

A smartphone displaying Shopify's payment segment.

If you're a Shopify business owner eager to taste overseas success, there are two truths to accept. First, exciting opportunities await you beyond borders. Secondly, international taxes are a river that can drown your Shopify international expansion dreams. 

However, don't let tax obligations and their complexities stifle your entrepreneurial spirit. This guide will equip you with the knowledge to confidently tackle Shopify international taxes, ensuring a smooth entry into unfamiliar markets. 

We leave no stone unturned, from helping you understand why international tax compliance is vital to recommending automation resources to explore that simplify the calculation process. Let's dive in!

Understanding International Tax Obligations for Shopify Businesses

Before diving into the specifics, it's essential to grasp the concept of international tax obligations for Shopify stores. Businesses are subject to tax requirements in place by the countries they operate in when selling products or services across borders. 

These obligations typically include filing tax returns, collecting and remitting Value Added Tax (VAT) or Goods and Services Tax (GST), and complying with customs duties and import taxes.

Importance of International Tax Compliance

Shopify international taxes influence how merchants venturing into foreign markets operate. Everyone prefers favourable tax laws, but that's not the case in every country. So, in such regions, here's why you must meet your tax obligations even if they feel unfair:

Demonstrate Legal and Ethical Practices

The first argument for Shopify international taxes compliance is that it demonstrates your commitment to legal and ethical practices. When you fulfil tax obligations in different countries, you prove that you operate with integrity and obey jurisdictional laws. As such, you can build a positive reputation and enjoy minimal interruptions from legal offices.

Ensure Smooth Operations

Complying with international tax regulations is also essential for ensuring smooth business operations. By meeting tax demands, Shopify brands can prevent disruptions such as legal actions, audits or disputes with tax authorities. Non-compliance can lead to shipping delays, frozen assets or even the suspension of business activities in certain jurisdictions. Therefore, maintaining good standing in terms of tax compliance is crucial for unhindered operations.

Build Trust and Confidence

International tax compliance plays a significant role in building trust and confidence among customers and stakeholders. Businesses that demonstrate they're compliant with tax laws will invariably reinforce their professionalism and reliability. Customers are more likely to trust entities that operate with transparency and integrity. This trust can morph into increased sales, customer loyalty and a positive reputation for the brand.

Consequences of Non-Compliance with Shopify International Taxes

When expanding your Shopify business internationally, you must prioritise compliance with international tax regulations. Failure to meet your tax obligations may have severe consequences on your business operations and reputation. Some notable repercussions include:

Penalties and Fines for Non-compliance

Penalties vary according to the specific tax regulations in each country. Failure to accurately calculate and file taxes can result in financial ramifications that can significantly impact your business's bottom line.

Legal and Regulatory Issues

Tax authorities have the power to conduct audits and investigations to ensure businesses are meeting their tax obligations. If your Shopify business is found to be non-compliant, it can result in legal proceedings, litigation and reputational damage.

Shopify brands that are non-compliant to tax obligation will face legal repercussions.

Disrupted Business Operations and Shipping Delays

Customs authorities may impose delays or even hold shipments if the necessary tax documentation and declarations are incomplete or inaccurate. These issues can lead to dissatisfied customers, delayed deliveries and potential financial losses.

Reputational Damage

Customers, partners and stakeholders expect businesses to operate ethically and responsibly. If your Shopify business is associated with tax non-compliance, it'll lose trust and credibility. Reputational damage can be challenging to repair, potentially resulting in a loss of customers and business opportunities.

Seizure of Goods at Customs

Customs authorities can confiscate goods if the required tax payments or documentation are not in order. This risk may cause significant financial losses and damage your business's relationship with customers and suppliers. To avoid this possibility, you must comprehend and fulfil the tax regulations and requirements in each target market.

Overcoming Challenges in International Taxation for Shopify Businesses

Expanding into international markets brings its fair share of challenges and pitfalls regarding taxation. Shopify businesses must know these challenges and proactively address them to maintain compliance and avoid costly mistakes. Let's explore the common challenges and how businesses can overcome them:

Diverse Tax Regulations

Navigating the diverse tax regulations guiding different countries is challenging due to the vast information you must constantly process. To resolve the problem, invest in comprehensive research and consult with tax professionals who have expertise in international tax laws. Your brand can ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties if it's informed about the specific tax requirements in each market.

Tax Calculation Complexity

Considering varying tax rates, exemptions and thresholds, calculating Shopify international taxes is an intricate process. But, luckily, you can integrate multiple automated tax calculation software like Invoice Falcon and TaxJar with Shopify to simplify the process. Apps like Exemptify and Quaderno accurately calculate taxes following specific rules and currencies, saving time and reducing the risk of errors.

VAT and GST Compliance

Calculating Value Added Tax (VAT) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) compliance is often challenging, as regulations differ across countries. You can make the process easier by partnering with tax agencies versed in VAT/GST calculations. These professionals will guide you through registration thresholds, reporting requirements and proper tax collection. They can also assist in implementing systems that streamline VAT/GST compliance within your Shopify platform.

Shopify businesses must engage tax professionals that'll grant them in-depth insight on the tax regulations prevalent in multiple jurisdictions.

Tax Reporting and Filing

International tax reporting and filing is time-consuming and prone to errors. But what if there's an automated solution that simplifies the process? The good news is there are multiple solutions, such as Zonos and Invoice Falcon. With these tools, you can easily generate tax reports, facilitate timely filings and ensure compliance with every jurisdiction's demands, reducing your administrative burden and minimising the non-compliance risk.

Techniques for Shopify Businesses to Simplify International Tax Compliance

Various strategies can assist you when simplifying Shopify international tax obligations is the goal. These techniques have different purposes, including figure automation and optimised report filing. By using them properly, you streamline your tax obligation compliance process. They are as follows:

Using Automated Tax Calculation Apps

An excellent way to simplify international tax compliance is to embrace automated tax calculation apps. These applications integrate with your Shopify store and automatically calculate the applicable taxes based on customer location and product type. Brands implementing this protocol eliminate manual calculations, minimising avoidable errors and ensuring accurate tax collection.

Streamlining Tax Reporting and Remittance Processes

Another important way to handle international taxes better is efficient tax reporting and remittance. As a Shopify business, you can link specialised automated tax reporting software to your dashboard. This move simplifies the whole process, as the tools can generate tax reports, assist with filling out tax forms and integrate with accounting systems to simplify the reconciliation of tax liabilities.

Partnering with Tax Professionals or Consultants

The challenges associated with Shopify international tax compliance can become worse for businesses lacking dedicated tax expertise. Such brands may fail to fulfil their basic tax duties and miss out on loopholes that may be to their advantage. 

To prevent these possibilities, hiring tax professionals in international taxation who stay updated in the eCommerce world is recommended. These experts can assist you by providing guidance, planning your taxes and ensuring you meet all tax obligations in any given country. 

Leveraging Tax Management Features in Shopify

Shopify comes with tax management features that simplify international tax compliance under its project, Shopify Tax. The accompanying features help you to set up tax rates for different countries or regions, handle tax exemptions and generate tax reports directly within the Shopify platform. 

When you leverage these native tools, you can centralise your tax management efforts, cut down on manual labour and consistently comply with international tax regulations.

What Roles Can Bezos Play to Help Handle Shopify International Taxes Better?

One thing's certain: as long as you're a Shopify merchant looking forward to international success, taxes are unavoidable. Not to mention that they can be expensive, working them out is often a challenge and failure to meet tax obligations has heavy consequences. 

While there are various ways to tackle these tax compliance challenges, it's impossible to ignore how much help can come from a fulfilment service like Bezos. Don't see how our fulfilment, delivery, order picking, order tracking and other solutions can help you? Consider these advantages:

Optimising Order Fulfilment and Inventory Management

Bezos' order fulfilment services encompass all elements of storage, picking, packing and dispatch. So by entrusting your fulfilment operations to us, you can streamline the processes, resulting in efficient overall inventory control. 

But why is this streamlined approach vital for accurate tax calculations? It provides real-time visibility of stock levels, simplifies tracking inventory movement across borders and enables precise reporting of taxable inventory.

International Warehousing and Distribution Network

Bezos' international warehousing and distribution network is a valuable asset for Shopify businesses expanding globally. We have warehouses in strategic locations across Europe and Oceania, so you can store your inventory closer to your foreign customer base. 

With this localised approach, your business can minimise cross-border shipping costs and reduce transit times and customs-related delays that may complicate tax calculations. Bezos can help your eCommerce business overcome these obstacles, thereby aiding smoother international operations.

Bezos simplifies fulfilment with its vast warehouse network.

Customs Compliance and Documentation Support

Navigating customs compliance and documentation requirements is vital to international tax compliance. Fortunately, the professionals at Bezos are experienced in managing customs regulations so that shipments possess the necessary documentation and declarations.

Our Shopify business partners can access expert assistance in customs compliance, minimising the risk of tax penalties or delays resulting from inaccurate or incomplete documentation.

Scalability and Flexibility for Changing Tax Requirements

Bezos' scalability and flexibility mean that Shopify brands can accommodate evolving tax requirements. As tax laws or rates change in different countries, we can help you adjust your systems and processes to align with the new regulations. 

Thanks to such high adaptability, Bezos enables ongoing tax compliance, granting you access to updated and accurate international tax calculations.

Wrap Up

As you commence your Shopify international expansion journey, note that tax compliance isn't just a legal obligation but a strategic advantage. A brand that embraces Shopify international taxes challenges head-on will leave an impression of integrity, reliability and adaptability on customers. But a business that doesn't may suffer consequences, from reputation damage to product confiscation, hallmarks of a doomed foreign business venture.

Luckily, calculating tax numbers, filing necessary documents and meeting other tax-related obligations is a walk in the park if you incorporate automated solutions and partner with reliable cross-border fulfilment experts like Bezos. Contact us today to get started!


What are the potential tax obligations when selling internationally through Shopify?

Common international tax obligations include Value-added Tax (VAT), Goods and Services Tax (GST), customs duties and import taxes. The specific demands depend on the countries you sell to and their tax regulations. As such, you must research and understand the tax requirements in each target market to ensure strict compliance. Our Shopify international taxes guide delivers context on all these areas.

How can I calculate international taxes for my Shopify sales?

Calculating international taxes for Shopify sales is a hectic task when handled manually. Fortunately, numerous tax calculation apps integrate seamlessly with your Shopify dashboard. These tools automate the tax calculation process based on your clients' locations and the applicable tax rates.

What are the consequences of non-compliance with international tax regulations for Shopify businesses?

Non-compliance with international tax regulations can have serious consequences for Shopify businesses. They include fines, penalties, reputational damage and legal issues. What's more? Non-compliance may disrupt your business operations, cause shipping delays or even result in the seizure of goods at customs.

2 min read

Premium wines delivered reliably and less environmental impact

2 min read

Scaling orders volumes whilst saving time and money on fulfilment