It is around this time of year that those businesses that are partially exempt are required to calculate their annual adjustment. This adjustment must be made in the VAT return period ending June, July or August but can be made in the prior period (March/April/May) if a business wishes. CVC is able to calculate or check these annual adjustments for businesses if required.
Revenue & Customs Brief 3 (2018): Changes to the VAT exemption for cost sharing groups.
This brief and the related VAT information sheet explain the immediate changes that are taking place in HMRC’s policy following recent judgments
VAT Notes 2018 Issue 1
HMRC has published its 2018 VAT Notes Issue 1.
VAT: businesses that sell goods in the UK using online marketplaces
Updated with changes announced in the Autumn 2017 Budget for sellers that use online marketplaces.
VAT returns and EC Sales Lists Online: VAT
How to use the test service: 4.1 guidance has been updated with version 4.2.
Draft legislation: The Value Added Tax (Amendment) Regulations 2018
Response to consultation has been published.
In the Spring Statement, the Chancellor announced details of two consultations with implications for the future operation of VAT. Please see our news item for further information.
Cavendish Green Limited (Cavendish) appealed against a previous decision that the sale of a building did not qualify for zero-rating as the structure present at the point of transfer did not have automatic statutory planning permission and had not received planning permission from elsewhere. In the absence of the necessary planning permission, the sale should have been treated as VAT exempt and Cavendish should not be able to claim back input VAT relating to the project.
The First Tier Tribunal made it clear that planning permission must be sufficient at the time of supply in order for the sale of a building to benefit from zero-rating. In the Upper Tribunal, Cavendish sought to introduce new evidence to show that the structure in question did in fact have statutory planning permission at the time of sale and was thus able to benefit from the zero-rate. The Tribunal refused to admit this evidence as it found the behaviour of Cavendish to be “most unsatisfactory” as it failed to make a formal written application with evidence to support its claims and the addition of new evidence would not be fair and just.
The appeal was dismissed as the taxpayer had no proof to demonstrate that the structure met the conditions for automatic statutory planning permission, this case may have had a different outcome had Cavendish approached the Tribunal differently.
First Tier Tribunal
In this case the Tribunal considered whether the sale of four properties by Clark Hill Limited satisfied the necessary criteria to be treated as transfers of going concerns and, therefore, be outside the scope of VAT as neither a supply of goods nor services. The main issue between the parties is the interpretation of “relevant date” in the VAT law.
The Tribunal issued four decisions, relating to one property each. In three from the four transactions before the court, the transfer was held not to be a TOGC as HMRC had not been informed of the exercising of the option to tax by the “relevant date” which is held to be the date on which the deposit is received by the seller’s solicitors. The fourth property transaction presented its own unique circumstances which led to a different conclusion. The deposit was paid to the auctioneers of the property on the 3rd of December, the seller’s solicitors received the funds on the 16th. The point on which this question turns is the capacity in which the auctioneers held the deposit; agent or stakeholder.
HMRC contend that the funds were held by the auctioneers as an agent for the seller and therefore that Clark Hill should be treated as having received the deposit when the auctioneers did, on the 3rd December. Clark Hill refuted this, claiming that there is no evidence to support the claim that the auctioneers were agents. The Tribunal agreed and this transaction was treated as a TOGC.
In Homechoice Flooring Limited (HFL), the appellant’s director, Mr. Singh, sought permission to make a late appeal in respect of a VAT assessment. Mr. Singh was over two years late in making this appeal, his explanation being that he believed he had in fact, through his former accountants, lodged an appeal already. He sought to contend that as he believed HFL’s accountants were dealing with the appeal, he had no cause to believe any further action was required on his or HFL’s behalf.
In response, HMRC looked to whether or not there was a reasonable excuse for the delay, arguing that HFL’s contention that an appeal had been made is not supported by any documents and there is no record of an appeal at HMRC in relation to this matter. It was also put forward that as Mr. Singh had changed accountants twice since the assessment, he could reasonably have been expected to make enquiries into the status of the appeal he believed to be ongoing.
As Mr. Singh made no effort to check on the status of HFL’s appeal, the Tribunal found that his excuse could not be seen as reasonable and therefore dismissed his appeal. They also stated that poor trading results do not amount to a reasonable excuse.
St Brendan’s Sixth Form College (St. Brendan’s) appealed against a decision made by HMRC that certain construction works carried out for St Brendan’s were liable for VAT at the standard rate, not zero-rated as St Brendan’s believed. A new block was built in order to provide extra space for teaching, a café and a staff room. The question is whether the new building qualified for zero-rating under Item 2, Group 5, Schedule 8 Value Added Tax Act 1994.
HMRC argued that the new building was not a separate building because of a link bridge between the new building and a pre-existing building. It was also contended that as the activities that will take place in the building are similar to those already taking place on the site in other buildings, the new building is actually an extension of the existing buildings. To refute this, St Brendan’s contended that the building is a separate building with its own access and facilities and is a different type of building and constructed of different materials, and serving different purposes.
After considering all points and taking into account the relevant case law, the appeal was allowed on the grounds that the new building was a new building and was not merely an extension of, or annexe to, the pre-existing buildings on site.
Pegasus (Manchester) Limited (Pegasus) appealed against a VAT assessment relating to food sales which HMRC deemed to be hot and therefore standard rated. The appellant sold takeaway food in spill-proof containers which were not intended to retain heat. Pegasus contend that the food served is not intended to be hot at all but is served warm as a result of storage at 56C in a bain-marie, in order to comply with the food safety and hygiene regulations 2013. Before being placed in the bain-marie the food is cooled to 19-20C which is below the ambient temperature of the restaurant which is claimed to be 28-30C.
HMRC submitted that as the cooked food is kept in a bain marie with a temperature of 56C, the food is hot as it is above the ambient temperature; “hot” does not need to mean piping hot. It is also submitted that the main purpose of the bain marie is to sell hot food and moreover that compliance the food safety and hygiene regulations 2013 is only required where food is to be sold as hot. The provision by the appellant of napkins and cutlery to customers imply that the food is to be consumed as it is sold and it is sold as hot food.
The Tribunal found in favour of HMRC in this instance as the food is kept hot before being served and is hot as defined in the relevant legislation when it is supplied. The supply should therefore be standard rated.
Crown Blinds Limited appeal against a VAT default surcharge relating to late payment of VAT. The appellant does not dispute that the VAT for the relevant time period was paid late but submits that he had a reasonable excuse as he had a direct debit instruction in place for the payment of VAT but HMRC had failed to process this.
The appellant had cancelled the direct debit and reinstated it several times between September 2016 and March 2017 and HMRC had contacted the appellant on each of these occasions to state that if payment of VAT is to be taken by direct debit then a new instruction must be set up online or by sending paper instruction. Despite an email from the appellant’s bank manager stating that the direct debit had been reinstated on 5th June 2017, the payment was not processed as the instruction was not reinstated on HMRC’s systems. HMRC had already advised that a new mandate would be required in correspondence in March 2017 and submit that a prudent trader would have acknowledged the correspondence and used an alternative method to make payment for the relevant periods.
The Tribunal found in favour of HMRC, stating that the appellant should have paid closer attention to the correspondence from HMRC which made clear that the direct debit was not being processed. The appellant cannot be said to have a reasonable excuse so the penalties were confirmed in full.