End of amnesty for Sussex businesses

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NON-VAT registered businesses across Sussex could face an HMRC investigation following the end of an amnesty period for registration on December 31.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will compare information from sources such as tax returns and target those businesses which they believe should be VAT registered, either currently or in the past, with the threat of criminal action and/or penalties of up to 100 per cent of the VAT owed on those who fall foul.

Rupert Moyle, VAT Associate Director at Baker Tilly in the South East, said: “HMRC started this campaign by issuing over 40,000 letters to targeted businesses and it can be assumed that if these businesses have not come forward and explained their VAT position these businesses will be first on the list to be followed up by HMRC.”

However, given the significant scale of the letter campaign by HMRC questions have been raised as to the accuracy of HMRC records and whether there really are 40,000 or more businesses in the UK that should have registered for VAT, but have not done so. If this is the case then there is an argument that such a specific campaign should not have been needed in 2011 because, given the volume of businesses concerned, they should have been contacted previously by HMRC.

Rupert adds: “The risk is that HMRC’s records are not as accurate as they should be, which risks wasting the department’s resources and causing huge upheaval for businesses that have been wrongly targeted in the forthcoming purge.”

Owners and managers of businesses requiring further information as to whether or not they should be VAT registered should visit www.hmrc.gov.uk or contact Baker Tilly on 01483 307000.