Value-added tax, or VAT, was first levied in France in 1954. Now, most countries (except for the United States) have implemented VAT, with rates from 5 percent to 25 percent.
In the European Union, international travelers get some relief, as 24 of 27 EU countries charge reduced rates at hotels and restaurants. And for business travel and meetings, VAT is often completely refundable. Still, the specific rules vary by country, are subject to change, and involve lots of paperwork: