For European companies, submitting claims for Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds is a chore. Fortunately, Emburse and VAT IT have partnered on a joint VAT reclaim solution to help simplify, streamline, and optimize the VAT refund submission process.

How OCR technology makes it easier to get VAT refunds

In a talk between Emburse SVP Kenny Eon and VAT IT Managing Director Marc Sevitz, Eon pointed out that one of the primary benefits of having an expense management system (EMS) is that these platforms allow companies to automatically track all of their expenses. This saves a ton of time right off the bat because automation frees up finance teams to focus on higher-impact work.

Sevitz agreed, noting that traditional finance teams wade through paper receipts to look for a needle in a haystack. In a more efficient, optimized, and automated system, employees just have to snap a picture of their receipts, and a modern spend management system will do the rest. 

This type of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology is a game-changer for organizations that still rely mostly on email-, spreadsheet-, and paper-based systems or un-optimized ERP modules. It saves countless hours of manual submission preparation and reporting.

But automation isn’t just useful for optimizing spend management. OCR technology can also help companies submit VAT refund claims more easily and accurately than ever before.

Watch now: Better Together: VAT IT reclaim. + Emburse

Getting VAT refunds can be difficult, but it shouldn’t be

The timely receipt of VAT refunds and VAT reimbursements is critical to the success of European businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises. For companies of this size, constant delays and submission refusals could greatly impact business outcomes.

Why do so many European businesses have a difficult time getting the VAT refunds they deserve? Because VAT reclaim submissions are tedious and time-consuming. The average European business takes 2–5 hours to prepare and submit a single VAT claim, according to a report by the European Commission.

Even worse, as many as 12% of European businesses admitted they might not even bother submitting VAT claims due to the increased risk of VAT audit or investigation.

When most VAT claims are less than €1,000 each, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense for businesses to spend much time on what they consider a complex, high-risk, low-reward endeavor.

But even a single successful VAT claim is still money back in the pockets of businesses that could really use the extra cash. More importantly, hundreds or even thousands of VAT claims can add up to significant cash savings—but only if you successfully claim them.

Fortunately, VAT IT has been helping European companies with successful VAT claims since 2000. VAT IT offers 32 VAT reclaim opportunities for businesses to recover VAT refunds from local and overseas spending and foreign supplier services. VAT IT customers can save up to 27% of their expenses.

With Emburse + VAT IT, your company can immediately benefit from both enterprise-level spend management and automated VAT reclamation. Emburse spend data feeds directly into VAT IT’s refund savings platform, simplifying the overall process and guaranteeing a smoother integration and experience for our valuable customers. 

Putting more money back into your pockets

When it’s up to our customers to pick and choose different spend solutions that can play nicely together, their results may vary. It’s usually better to go with a joint solution that’s battle-tested.

Emburse partnered with VAT IT because we realized that having a trustworthy, long-term VAT partner for our customers was a win-win solution. With VAT IT, Emburse can comfortably introduce our customers to a fully compliant VAT reclaim solution uniquely suited to their domestic and foreign VAT requirements, allowing them to capture more savings than ever.

VAT IT connects directly to Emburse Chrome River’s spend management platform to extract expense and invoice data for VAT refund reclamation. VAT IT’s technology uses proprietary Optical Character Recognition (OCR) algorithms to analyze Emburse data and calculate VAT reclaim potential and to automatically turn invoice images into claims for submission to the appropriate tax authorities, so you’re always staying compliant.

Together, we’re focused on humanizing finance work and providing real-time, 24/7 access and visibility at every level of spend so that companies can lower expenses and save more money.

If you’d like to learn more about how Emburse + VAT IT can help your company save on expenses and recover more in VAT refunds, we’re here to help.

About VAT IT

VAT IT is the largest cloud-based, end-to-end Value Added Tax (VAT) provider, offering foreign and domestic tax services that help companies maximize their VAT reclaim through a combination of human audit and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. VAT IT serves over 13,000 clients, including multi-nationals and Fortune 500 companies.


Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care. Sally Abella, Director of Corporate Travel Harman International
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic. Ben Zastrow Zelle