General Business Forum Brought to you by Salesforce

The very nice man from the VAT is coming to visit.

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by Noah, Aug 17, 2019.

  1. Noah

    Noah UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,249 314
    Apparently a routine visit, not triggered by any untoward returns or reports. First in 10 years of trading!

    We use standard invoicing / bookkeeping / accounting software and practices, all duly diligent; we report, file, and pay on time.

    I am obsessive about doing things properly, but I am also fallible; any advice on preparation for a VAT inspection please?

    Anything I should be justifiably paranoid about?
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: Noah Member since: Sep 1, 2009
  2. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    22,158 2,612
    Be paranoid about who you are talking to. Make sure of his or her identity before discussing stuff that you don't normally about your business.

    From what others have said over the years regarding vat inspections done randomly they are out to help you - not find fault with everything then slam your business into the ground.
    Making sure you are doing things the right way and with the right records helps them too - they can claim to proactively avoid VAT issues cropping up later.
    Dealing with an acorn is a darn sight easier than a 100 year old oak tree.
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  3. KM-Tiger

    KM-Tiger UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

    9,974 2,662
    Have had 2 since being in business. If your records are in good order then you have nothing to fear. Both were pleasant people.

    The only thing they ever found wrong was that I had not reclaimed enough VAT. It was the fuel element of mileage payments.
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: KM-Tiger Member since: Aug 10, 2003
  4. GraemeL

    GraemeL Pain in the neck? Full Member - Verified Business

    5,108 1,101
    Be able to access your records for the past 7 years easily and quickly on the day.
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: GraemeL Member since: Sep 7, 2011
  5. cjd

    cjd UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

    15,449 3,074
    Often best done at your accountant's office.
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: cjd Member since: Nov 23, 2005
  6. Ally Maxwell

    Ally Maxwell UKBF Regular Free Member

    372 118
    have you ever had a VAT visit ?
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: Ally Maxwell Member since: Nov 6, 2015
  7. Noah

    Noah UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,249 314
    Thanks folks. First thing I did was verify identity of the nice man. We'll see how the rest of it goes.
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: Noah Member since: Sep 1, 2009
  8. cjd

    cjd UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

    15,449 3,074
    Yup. It was utterly bizarre. They quite literally had no idea what they were there for. I still don't know. But nothing came of it. They asked a few strange questions, we answered them. They went away.
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: cjd Member since: Nov 23, 2005
  9. Socio South West

    Socio South West UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    951 246
    Try not to be squeaky clean!!!
    If there was anything dodgy I always told my team to err on the side of being wrong, and document it clearly.... Mr (or often Mrs) Vatperson would come along and find these apparently innocent but well documented errors and go off happily with a little cheque, having given us a good tut tut tutting in the process, but justified their existence.

    If they cant find anything... they start digging.... and digging... until they find something to make their visit worthwhile

    The other most excellent tactic we discovered was to arrange your inspections for 2pm... VAT inspectors don't get overtime and down tools promptly at 5pm.
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: Socio South West Member since: Mar 24, 2013
  10. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    22,158 2,612
    Someone suggested the 2pm trick to us and I fell for it.
    3pm came and I had to do my end of day stuff while answering questions. Its quite likely that day that we overpaid or underpaid royal mail because of trying to do too many things in too short a space of time.

    Don't try the 2pm trick if you end up having to do quite a bit of daily processing before 5 yourself.
    Posted: Aug 17, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  11. Mitch3473

    Mitch3473 UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,099 266
    For my last one, many many moons ago, he bought his our lunch and refused any drinks etc. I get the opinion he thought I was going to poison him. Decent guy though, only human so I'm told.
    Posted: Aug 18, 2019 By: Mitch3473 Member since: Aug 25, 2011
  12. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    4,522 1,646
    Had a few over the years. None actively unpleasant. Some more intense than others

    The most intense, he sat in my office for 3 days poring through records speaking only to ask occasional questions and once to observe - without a smile - that a customer’s address ‘llamedos’ was actually ‘sod em all’ spelt backwards. Odd I remember that...
    Posted: Aug 18, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
  13. atmosbob

    atmosbob UKBF Ace Free Member

    4,245 982
    In remote areas they are not all full-time. I had one booked in by an inspector who also worked part-time as a salesman for one of my rivals. In no way was I going to allow him inside my office.

    Years ago I used to get an inspection every 2 years. Now I haven't seen one for over 20.

    One thing I do know is that if the VAT inspector finds you cheating expect the taxman to come calling.
    Posted: Aug 18, 2019 By: atmosbob Member since: Oct 26, 2009
  14. jjscruff

    jjscruff UKBF Regular Free Member

    163 9
    don't really understand what this first paragraph means but i agree with the second. they want to justify their visit by being able to say they accomplished something. Luckily for me they had a filing error from 5 years ago that he brought up. I had to pay because my accountants F'd up an old vat return. He seemed happy with that and didn't really do much on the day
    Posted: Aug 18, 2019 By: jjscruff Member since: Aug 9, 2013
  15. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,674 813
    In the 'old' days, we used to have an annual visit!

    But I have had a visit more recently, sparked by an unusual set of numbers on a return - which was entirely fair enough.

    The inspector was courteous, and simply wanted to see the books, reassure themselves we kept accurate and timely records, and understand the reasons for the unusual quarter's figures. As soon as they were satisfied with that, they went.

    So, it is not necessarily something to be worried about. However, ensure:

    1. That your records are uptodate.
    2. That they can easily find what they need.
    3. That you answer their questions openly, factually, and concisely.
    4. That you don't bother them with stuff you are not being asked for. They don't want that, and neither do you.
    Posted: Aug 19, 2019 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
  16. SteLacca

    SteLacca UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,707 347
    Something that they are likely to be looking at now is compliance with the digital records requirement of MTD.
    Posted: Aug 19, 2019 By: SteLacca Member since: Jun 16, 2016
  17. estwig

    estwig UKBF Legend Free Member

    12,365 4,339
    I had the VAT lady visit me one time many years ago, a nice lady I fed her tea and biscuits all day, the posh wafer thin ones with fancy chocolate on them.

    She asked questions I didn't understand, I put her on the phone to my 'bean counter', she left happy and I never heard anything again.
    Posted: Aug 19, 2019 By: estwig Member since: Sep 29, 2006
  18. Gordon - Commercial Finance

    Gordon - Commercial Finance UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,304 741
    All of the above is making me extremely grateful that 99% of what I do is not VAT rated!
    Posted: Aug 19, 2019 By: Gordon - Commercial Finance Member since: Jun 26, 2017
  19. Pish_Pash

    Pish_Pash UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,425 629
    "I've been looking forward to you coming because frankly I've never got my head around this VAT does it work, let me put the kettle on"
    Posted: Aug 20, 2019 By: Pish_Pash Member since: Feb 1, 2013
  20. DavidWH

    DavidWH UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    1,605 304
    Maybe but it's resulted in us getting a visit :p

    Not too concerned, although I suspect my Dad was wrongly advised during an inspection many moons ago, and we've been charging one customer VAT where it should be zero rated, we'll get that clarified during the visit.
    Posted: Sep 24, 2019 By: DavidWH Member since: Feb 15, 2011