HMRC carries out compliance checks to review that the correct amount of indirect tax – mainly VAT – has been paid.

Almost all VAT investigations will involve a visit to the business premises to conduct a review of the records and to ask questions arising from the review.  Usually these visits will be made by appointment, but in exceptional circumstances HMRC can arrive without giving the taxpayer any notice.

HMRC will usually tell the taxpayer in advance which records they want to examine, which can include the records for the current year as well as for years for which VAT returns have already been submitted.

The taxpayer is entitled to have their tax adviser present to assist them in dealing with any questions which arise.

The relevant legislation which allows for compliance checks also introduces various restrictions on the powers of HMRC when carrying out these checks.

At any stage HMRC can decide to escalate the compliance check into a more thorough tax investigation.  This will usually happen where HMRC have found significant errors during the course of the compliance check.  The new investigation can be extended to consider taxes other than VAT.

VAT Fraud & VAT Evasion

As well as carrying out normal compliance visits to check on VAT, HMRC carries out serious VAT investigations under the procedure set out in Public Notice 160 in cases where they have reason to believe dishonest conduct has taken place.  These tend to be cases where larger amounts of VAT are involved and where HMRC suspect the taxpayer has acted fraudulently.

How can WLH Tax Help

When HMRC carries out a VAT investigation or compliance check the taxpayer is entitled to have a tax adviser present, to assist with dealing with any questions raised by HMRC.  WLH Tax can act as your adviser for the purposes of the compliance check.

It is important that the taxpayer is aware of the restrictions imposed on HMRC by the legislation which introduced compliance checks.  Many firms of accountants are not aware of the powers available to HMRC in these circumstances.  As a specialist tax investigations firm, WLH Tax keeps up to date with the relevant powers and restrictions to ensure that HMRC does not exceed the powers granted to them.

WLH Tax will control the supply of information to HMRC, without in any way allowing HMRC to claim that you have not been co-operating with the enquiry.

WLH Tax will discuss with you and with HMRC any apparent discrepancies between the VAT Returns and the records with a view to reaching an agreement with HMRC.  We will put forward arguments to minimise you VAT liability and the penalty charged.  We will also ensure that the investigation is handled professionally to ensure that you are not named and shamed.

If HMRC have told you that they intend to carry out a VAT investigation or compliance check into your business, then please contact us for a free, confidential and no obligation discussion.  We are happy to have an initial free of charge meeting with prospective clients.

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