Any business which is registered for VAT can expect to have a VAT visit from time to time, and sometimes these escalate to a full-blown enquiry.
Any interaction with HMRC can be stressful, frustrating and bewildering. The fact that the rules in VAT are often complicated or don’t appear to make a great deal of sense in the “real world” only makes things more difficult for you.
HMRC action can vary from routine VAT visits to full enquiries arising out of dawn raids and accusations of fraud.
Clearly, the kind of tactics required to handle these two extremes are very different, but our goal is always the same: to get the client the absolute best result possible in all the circumstances.
That means that any additional tax due is kept to a minimum. It means that all reliefs available are claimed in full. It means that we chase up these cases as hard and as fast as we can to ensure that the case is not hanging over you forever.
The days when the friendly local officer comes out for a chat seem to be coming to an end, and much of the work is now handled remotely. This means requests for very large amounts of detail can be made by telephone or email, and so care is needed about what you send and who is receiving it.
Something which has become much more common in recent years is the VAT refund check. Generally speaking, these are routine matters dealt with by a quick email.
However, we have seen these cases spiral into much wider and difficult enquiries, sometimes involving huge sums of money. This can particularly be the case where the refund claimed relates to a property transaction. Perhaps unsurprisingly, HMRC seem to be keen to keep as much of this money as they can, with as little hassle (for them!) as they can manage.
Unfortunately, this means the process can sometimes end up feeling quite unfair, perhaps with a fairly junior HMRC officer, who admittedly is just doing their job, taking your business’s life in their hands.
The vast majority of taxpayers do their best to keep their records properly and to pay over all the VAT they owe.
Even so, mistakes will happen even with the best will in the world. And unfortunately, with the Government perennially short of cash these days, HMRC’s attitude seems to be less forgiving than it used to be.
This means it is invaluable to have someone to guide you through the process, to challenge any requests or demands from HMRC which might seem unfair or unnecessary, and to keep the time required to deal with everything to a minimum.
If you are worried about a VAT visit you are facing, or if you’re having trouble obtaining a refund you’ve already claimed, please give us a call to see how we can help.
While most taxpayers do meet their obligations, sadly, sometimes people fall behind for whatever reason.
When this happens, owing to the risk of loss to the Treasury, HMRC can be extremely aggressive. We have handled cases where the tax at issue turned out to be a few thousand pounds, but HMRC organised a dawn raid with the police in attendance as if they were arresting a terrorist. They must really want your money!
Naturally, aggressive action of this kind is terrifying and almost appears to be designed to upset and scare the taxpayer.
In this situation, it is vital that you have someone on your side who knows what they are doing and who is, above all, on your side.
You can rely on us to put your interests first in dealing with HMRC.
This doesn’t mean we will go looking for a fight with HMRC. It does mean that we will firmly defend your interests, all the while seeking a rapid and inexpensive closure to the case.
While it is very easy simply to roll over and surrender to HMRC, our experience has been that constructive engagement and good manners, combined with a very robust defence of the taxpayer’s case, leads to the best outcome in the long run.
The Romans, who were very good at fighting battles, had a phrase for this approach: suaviter in modo, fortiter in re. It’s a tried and tested formula.
Full-scale enquiries are not to be taken lightly. If they are mishandled or if the taxpayer fails to cooperate in a sensible fashion, things can go badly wrong, even ending up with criminal prosecution. HMRC’s powers are extensive and they can make life very unpleasant for non-compliant and uncooperative taxpayers if they want to. The public tends to have little sympathy for people who have failed to pay their taxes.
That is why help can be so important in these situations.