More VAT Inspections on the way

HMRC have significantly increased the number of VAT inspections being carried out on SME’s.

These visits are resulting in more assessments being raised and revenue for the Treasury so the trend is likely to continue. Most errors discovered on a VAT inspection are basic in nature and could have been easily identified by the business. By monitoring your own VAT and making adjustments as necessary you are reducing the chance of assessments and potential penalties.


The following steps can assist you in checking your own VAT, in addition it demonstrates a high level of compliance to a VAT Inspector.


– On preparing a VAT return the first stage should be to review the last quarters calculation. Errors are easier to spot in hindsight.
– Levels of output tax and input tax should be compared to previous quarters. HMRC routinely check VAT quarters with lower outputs and higher inputs.
– Get the basics right, fuel scale charges, business entertainment, evidence to support staff mileage claims. These are always checked by HMRC as business get it wrong so often.
– Keep a “VAT Account”. This is the final stage of completing a VAT return, usually done on Excel, it lists any amendments etc that the accounts software doesn’t do. All amendments should be accompanied by a full explanation as it may be up to four years before reviewed on a VAT Inspection.
– The “Audit Trail” should be easy to follow. A VAT Inspector will start with the VAT return figures and trace back to the original sales and purchases. Each stage should be easy to follow.
– Consider the impact that recent changes in a business may have on its VAT return, for example new lines for sale with different liabilities, sub-letting a premises etc. Problems often arise when something different happens.


Moore and Smalley’s VAT team can advise on compliance, undertake systems reviews and assist with issues that may arise on a VAT Inspection such as assessments, penalties and rulings.