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How do people normally pronounce the abbreviation VAT (Value added tax)?

Which of the two chices is more common?

  1. To read each letter seperately (V.A.T)

  2. To read it as a word (vat)

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In British English (and I'm fairly certain that it is only in Britain where we call it VAT) both are used interchangeably.

I would say that the acronym - spelling it out - is the correct usage, while saying it as a word is widely understood but colloquial.

Used formally, such as in a news item, it would almost always be spelled out. An example of it being used as a word is from back in the 1970s when VAT was introduced to replace the former purchase tax and it was collected by Customs and Excise. People often informally spoke of the Inland Revenue (the government department responsible for collecting income tax) as "the tax man", and I can recall that around that time that some also spoke of "the vat man" in a similar way. Today, both taxes are collected by HM Revenue and Customs.

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  • Strictly speaking, VAT is not the same as a traditional sales tax, mainly in that it is also collected from producers and distributors whereas sales tax is assessed only upon sale to the final consumer. There are countries with both— in British Columbia and some other Canadian provinces, you pay GST (structured as a VAT) plus a PST (structured as a sales tax). In the US, on the other hand, there are tens of thousands of sales tax jurisdictions but the VAT has been deeply unpopular politically and is almost unheard of. – choster Sep 24 '18 at 11:14

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