A non-statutory clearance is a service whereby HMRC will give an answer on a point of legal uncertainty that is not clearly covered in HMRC’s guidance. It is important to note that written advice from HMRC is simply an opinion (HMRC is likely to walk away from it if it is wrong). A non-statutory clearance is still an opinion but it is an opinion that HMRC will not walk away from providing it is based on full and complete information.
There are strict rules for how to present a clearance which must be observed
HMRC will only give a clearance if you can demonstrate material uncertainty
Unless a taxpayer has a high level of professional expertise we would usually recommend that you use the services of a professional to obtain a non-statutory clearance. This should ensure that you address the key information requirements and structure your clearance in a way that maximises the likelihood that you will receive the answer that you want.
HMRC has produced a non-statutory clearance check list. Any failure to deal accurately with the points listed may invalidate the clearance. For this reason a non-statutory clearance requires a considerable amount of work, care and knowledge of VAT law.
The work involved in obtaining a clearance may be significant but if material sums of tax are involved and a business requires certainty it can deliver considerable value and peace of mind.
What our clients say
Constable VAT has offered a fantastic cost-effective and efficient service. As a company, we had been wrongly advised about our need to be VAT registered, and this meant that we had incurred a huge debt that could have broken the company. Stewart took the time to understand our case truly and then to explain our options. This was undertaken very professionally. We did not feel rushed or pushed to choose a particular option.When we decided to go with the company, they were extremely detailed in getting the case together to ensure we had the best chance they could hope for, all communication was prompt, conscience, timely. Including there ability to support use with chase up phone calls when requested. This impeccable attention to detail which they offered meant we won the case.Due to all of the above, I would recommend Constable VAT for their service embodies the essence of professionalism, from start to case conclusion."
Scott Henery | SCTS
From our initial contact in 2012 through initial advice, formal application to HMRC for a clearance letter receipt of such letter and subsequent claims going back over several years the team at Constable have been friendly and courteous in addition to showing the expected professionalism. I would have no hesitation in recommending them to other organisations seeking VAT advice Roger Neville Trustee and Treasurer
Roger Neville | Othona Community
Constable VAT advocates the non-statutory clearance system for the following reasons:
- it allows the questions to be carefully structured to avoid ambiguity;
- it prevents HMRC from declining to give an answer (a list of leaflets to read is a common response to most written enquires);
- it allows an unemotional decision to be made (if a VAT inspector believes he can raise a large assessment he is less likely to be objective than the clearance team);
- whilst no relevant facts can be hidden from HMRC (or the clearance will be invalid) it allows those relevant facts to be presented in a manner that is persuasive;
- we have never known HMRC to raise retroactive assessments after giving a non-statutory clearance.