Deeks VAT News issue 2

Keeping you up to date on VAT Changes

Deeks VAT News

Keeping you up to date on VAT changes

Issue 2                                                                                                                       

2 July 2019

Welcome to Deeks VAT News.

In this week’s issue we look at the following areas:

  • VAT: domestic reverse charge for building and construction services
  • Marks & Spencer’s appeal over VAT on “Dine In for Two for £10 with Free Wine” promotion
  • VAT Inspections – How can we help

VAT: domestic reverse charge for building and construction services

On 25 June 2019, HMRC updated its guidance on VAT: domestic reverse charge for building and construction services with what a business needs to do to prepare for the new regime. Please see the link to the guidance below:

Remember the reveres charge comes into effect on 1 October 2019 and means the customer receiving the service will have to pay the VAT due to HMRC instead of paying the supplier.

The reverse charge will only apply to individuals or businesses registered for VAT in the UK (it will not apply to consumers).

It is important to note that if a subcontractor charges you VAT when really you should have accounted for it under the reverse charge procedure, the VAT is incorrectly charged and is not recoverable as input tax.

Marks & Spencer’s appeal over VAT on “Dine In for Two for £10 with Free Wine” promotion

 The Upper Tribunal has dismissed Marks & Spencer’s appeal against the decision of the First-tier Tribunal [2018] UKFTT 238 (TC). Marks & Spencer’s appeal concerns the correct VAT treatment of its “Dine In for Two for £10 with Free Wine” promotion. The promotion allowed a customer to choose three food dishes on payment of £10 and obtain a bottle of wine (or other non-alcoholic beverage) which was described as being provided “free”.

The Upper Tribunal, upholding the First-tier Tribunal, decided that, under the promotion, the customer paid £10 in order to receive the three food items (all zero-rated) and the wine (standard rated), with the result that the £10 consideration must be allocated across all four items for VAT purposes, not just across the three food items, as Marks & Spencer contended.

VAT Inspections – How can we help?

 Most of us are used to routine VAT inspections. But if it is your first inspection can be somewhat daunting. Even experienced accountants can be wary if they are concerned about the business’s compliance history or if the accounting records aren’t as good as they should be.

The primary purpose of routine visits is to ensure that the business is accounting for the right amount of VAT at the right time. It doesn’t mean that they will verify every single transaction, but they will be ensuring that the accounting system is sufficiently robust to ensure that the VAT returns are correct and can be supported by the accounting records.

The other reason that an officer visits is that there is a query of some kind, most commonly when the business has submitted a repayment claim and HMRC needs to verify that the claim is correct.

Simple guidelines for dealing with inspections

  • Be prepared. Have the right people and the right information available. If the officer has asked in advance for particular information or records, have them ready and ensure that a partner or director or other senior person is available to speak to the officer and deal with any queries.
  • Be co-operative and polite to the officer. Give them some decent accommodation and be close by in case they have any questions. And a decent cup of tea always helps.
  • As well as the day to day accounting records, always have copies of recent annual accounts and bank records available.
  • Make a note of anything discussed during the visit and ask the officer to confirm any specific points in writing, eg rulings on liability issues or business/non-business apportionments. Alternatively, offer to write a note of the documents reviewed and the issues discussed and ask the officer to sign to show that he agrees with it.
  • Expect the officer to concentrate on any non-standard technical issues, for example, your partial exemption calculations if your business is partly exempt or VAT liability issues if you are a property development.
  • Remember that almost every time, the VAT officer will carry out routine checks to ensure that the right amount of tax has been declared. Sales and purchase ledgers, annual accounts and bank records are the basic records that should be available for inspection and up to date.
  • Even if the accounts aren’t as tidy as you’d like and you can’t reconcile every entry, the officer probably won’t be too concerned unless the errors suggest that the VAT returns could be wrong, for example, if there is more income in the bank accounts than reflected on the sales invoices.
  • It’s important that the client understands the importance of good compliance and this includes keeping accounting records up to date and in good order.

Remember that one of the most common sources of VAT assessments is from routine issues such as VAT on car expenses, staff entertainment and business/non-business apportionment.

And finally, remember that even if the officer doesn’t find anything wrong, it does not mean that everything is right. And even if the officer does find something wrong and issues an assessment for one or more errors, it doesn’t mean that everything else is okay.

Compliance issues

 In the past, many businesses and even some accountants turned a blind eye to repeated compliance errors, especially those that didn’t affect the actual VAT liability of the business or cost anything in terms of penalties or interest. But nowadays this isn’t such a good idea.

The new penalty system is designed to impose errors when the tax itself is wrong. However, penalties can be reduced according to a number of factors, including if the business has a good compliance history. Repeated errors which the business ignores will normally be taken as a sign of carelessness and a factor in whether or not to suspend penalties when VAT errors do occur.

This could include anything from consistently overclaiming input tax on expenses to getting the boxes 8 and 9 figures wrong. So, a little attention to compliance now could save money by reducing penalties when most needed.

Deeks VAT Consultancy has significant experience in dealing with VAT inspections, assessments and appeals, please do contact us should you require further information.

 Please note that Deeks VAT News is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to every development in VAT. It should not be used as a substitute for specific advice in individual circumstances. Deeks VAT Consultancy Limited cannot accept any liability for any action/inaction as a result of any reliance on Deeks VAT News’s contents.

Deeks VAT Consultancy Limited

Managing Director: Jane Deeks LLB (Hons) LPC CTA

T: 07710 553831        E:        W:

Share this page