£1billion VAT Assessment!

That will be £1billion please!

It’s not unusual for businesses to feel that HMRC’s demands on them are unreasonable. It is unusual however, for HMRC to get it as badly wrong as they did in a recent case. The whole affair has highlighted just how inadequately HMRC scrutinise the demands they send out.

Florence Coke, a cafe owner in Gorton, Manchester “nearly fell over” when she opened her post and discovered that the VAT Office in Southend-on-Sea was demanding nearly £1 billion from her. In line with normal practice, the demand stated that HMRC could turn up at the business premises and seize her business assets if she did not settle the amount.

This case clearly raises questions regarding the level of checks carried out on letters sent out by HMRC, as only the largest of businesses would be likely to have incurred such a debt. The lesson here is that businesses should thoroughly check any demand that HMRC sends out.

Whilst few will be as far removed from reality as this one was, many demands have an element of guesswork to them. Last year alone, businesses and their advisers managed to get well over a third of demands overturned upon internal review by HMRC. It is therefore vital that any/all assessments received from HMRC are reviewed by suitably qualified professionals with the knowledge and experience to know when to challenge, and when to step away. For all aspects of direct and indirect taxation, our dedicated experts are available simply call 0845 177 5500 or contact us online for a free initial review.


Scroll to Top