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>> Isn't a VAT just a sales tax? So if I withdraw funds from a Roth or my savings account and buy lunch in either case I pay the VAT/sales tax. <<

Yes, but if part of the income tax is replaced by a VAT, then you have lost some of the tax benefit you thought you were getting. If the VAT is merely in addition to existing income tax rates then you'd still be getting the deal you bargained for.

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