General VAT Advice and Support

Neil Warren, the respected VAT commentator describes VAT as “the nation’s favourite tax”.

This may be something of a minority view, but some of us do enjoy getting to grips with the strange rules and exceptions to exceptions which help make VAT such an enjoyable part of advising clients on their tax affairs.

In our experience, VAT issues can end up putting a severe strain on client relationships which have lasted for years, simply because the rabbit hole just seems never-ending.

We can help you ferret out the best solution for your client and focus on delivering the valuable business advice which is the bedrock of your relationship.

How Can We Help?

Over the years, we have assisted other accountants and solicitors with all sorts of tricky problems, and by bringing a laser-like focus on the VAT issue, we have been able to deliver some excellent results.

Some of the more interesting cases we have advised on include the following:

  • In one case, the directors of a company owned a building personally, but reclaimed VAT on a large refurbishment project through the company. HMRC sought to recover the VAT (several tens of thousands of pounds) from the company and were even talking about penalties. We were able to help the accountants turn the matter completely around by directing them to a helpful VAT case, and drafting a suitable reply to the HMRC officer in question. The officer accepted the points made and agreed to leave the refund untouched.
  • On another occasion, a farmer client of another accountant had put up a wind turbine and reclaimed the VAT on the construction, some years before the income could be generated. HMRC demanded a repayment of the VAT in full. We were able to help the accountant draft a clearly reasoned argument, based on the law, showing why the VAT was properly claimed and could be retained. In the event, the officer accepted the case made.
  • A large construction project faced a VAT refund check on amounts in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. We were able to assist the finance director in replying to HMRC, and ultimately secured a full refund, after drafting some correspondence and assisting with completing option to tax applications.
  • A landowner who had spent 40 years seeking planning permission was finally able to go ahead with some of the construction of a major housing development. However, the project was expected to take several years, and also included commercial elements such as service stations and schools. We were able to assist the client in calculating a reasonable apportionment basis to ensure that he paid no more VAT than he had to, but that he was also not facing a threat of HMRC challenge.
  • A local businessman was planning to provide professional services to a business partner in the Middle East, as well as directly to end clients in the USA. We were able to advise on a structure which minimised the VAT and also fit in well with the direct tax planning being provided by his accountants.
  • A local charity was providing services which were partly publicly-funded and partly paid for by the end-user. They also provided a mixture of services which were covered by the welfare exemption and some which were not. We were able to give them clarity on their VAT position, which was vital in approaching their funding bodies, as well as letting them work out when they needed to register for VAT, and whether their funders could reclaim any VAT charged.

Of course, not all cases involve large sums of money, complex points of law, or require forms to be submitted to HMRC. Sometimes a client simply wants a steer on the rate of VAT to charge on a new product or service line. Sometimes the amounts involved are small, but are huge to your client.

In cases like these, a quick chat, a short email, or a briefing paper can be prepared which provides you with clear advice which you can rely on to keep your client right.

If you are facing a VAT issue on any topic which seems confusing or worrying, give us a call to see how we can help.

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028 71 876 220