Tag Archives: Morgan Stanley

Constable VAT Focus 01 February 2019


Goods or Services Supplied to Charities

Find out when suppliers can apply the VAT zero rate VAT for advertisements and goods used for the collection of donations.

Software Suppliers for Sending VAT Returns

Find out which software packages support the Making Tax Digital pilots.

VAT Supply and Consideration

Payments that are not consideration: Grants. This section of guidance will help you determine whether a payment described as a grant is consideration for a supply of goods or services and will be of particular interest to charities and other not-for-profit organisations in receipt of grant funding.

Customs, VAT and Excise Regulations: Leaving the EU with No Deal

This collection brings together regulations, explanatory memoranda and an impact assessment in preparation for day one if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.





1. The Deductibility of Input Tax Incurred by Branches

This case concerned the Paris branch of Morgan Stanley and whether it was entitled to deduct input VAT it incurred on expenditure relating exclusively to the transactions of its principal establishment in another member state of the EU. The branch carries out banking and financial transaction for its local clients as well as supplying services to the UK principal establishment and had deducted in full the VAT incurred relating to both types of supply. The domestic tax authorities believed that this input VAT should not be fully deductible but that it should be apportioned using the principal establishments input VAT recovery fraction.

The main question which arose before the Court was whether the proportion of recoverable VAT incurred by the branch relating exclusively to the transactions of its principal establishment should be calculated in line with the branches or the principal’s input VAT recovery rate. It was also asked what rules should be applied in relation to expenditure relating to both transactions by the branch and by the principal.

Giving extensive consideration to the wealth of case law surrounding this subject, the Court decided that, in relation to the first question, that neither of the suggested calculations was correct. It was held that in relation to such expenditure, the associated input VAT is deductible in line with a fraction calculated as:

“Taxable transaction which would be deductible if carried out in branches states / Turnover (excl. VAT) made up of those transactions alone”

With regard to the second question of general costs of the branch which are used for both domestic transactions and transactions with the principal branch it was decided that account must be taken, in the denominator of the fraction, of the transactions carried out by both the branch and the principal establishment. The numerator of the fraction must represent the taxed transactions carried out by the branch and the taxed transaction carried out by the principal establishment.

Constable Comment: This confirms that VAT incurred by branches on expenses relating to supporting its head office are recoverable by looking thorugh to the supplies made by the head office. The calculations for the recoverable amount of input VAT are complicated, especially where the look through reveals the head office to be making both taxable and exempt supplies. If your business makes supplies to a head office it would be prudent to seek professional clarification of the correct treatment of input VAT incurred in relation to these supplies. 


Upper Tribunal

2. Welfare Services Exemption

The question before the Tribunal in two cases (The Learning Centre Romford & LIFE Services) was whether the UK’s implementation of the VAT exemption for welfare services had been unlawful by infringing the EU principle of fiscal neutrality.

The Learning Centre Romford (TLC) is a private company which provides vulnerable adults with education and entertainment. It also supplies meals and associated palliative care such as assistance with eating and administering medication with the aim of teaching the clients to be independent and to live healthy lives. It takes on as clients only those who have a care plan given by the local authority from which TLC receives funding. TLC had treated these supplies as exempt as the provision of welfare services by a state regulated institution. HMRC believed these supplies to be taxable at the standard rate as they were provided by a private company.

TLC argues that they were state regulated as it was a requirement for them to DBS check staff members and, in any case, the fact that private welfare providers akin to itself are in fact exempt from VAT in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It was contended that this infringed the principle of fiscal neutrality.

LIFE Services provided the same style of care as TLC but as it did not provide care at the client’s home it did not fall within the statutory regulation regime and was therefore not exempt from VAT.

HMRC argued that it was not the UK’s implementation of the exemption which had caused a disparity between Scottish and English welfare providers but that this situation had arisen as a result of the devolved legislature’s actions. The Tribunal agreed with HMRC, finding that in a devolved system it is inevitable that certain matters will diverge and, therefore, the principle of fiscal neutrality was not infringed. In allowing HMRC’s appeal on this ground, both cases were dismissed and the services of both LIFE and TLC were held to be taxable. This overturned the First Tier Tribunal’s previous decision.

Constable Comment: This was an interesting joint case which focussed on an area of disparity between the implementation of EU law in England and other devolved powers such as Scotland and Wales. Whilst there is a difference in the ways in which the law operates in different areas of the UK, the Tribunal found that this is as a result of the devolved powers implementations and not a failure of the UK to adhere to an EU Directive. This decision will also be interesting to charities which may wish to step outside of the VAT welfare exemption. For example, if VAT exempt welfare services supplied by a charity were carried out by a wholly owned trading subsidiary instead, would generating taxable supplies be advantageous?


First Tier Tribunal

3. Direct and Immediate Link with Taxable Supplies

This case concerned whether or not there was a direct and immediate link between input VAT incurred by Adullam Homes Housing Association (AHHA) and its taxable supplies of support services. AHHA is a partially exempt business making taxable supplies of support services and exempt supplies of accommodation.

The dispute arose with regard to whether input tax incurred on acquiring, maintaining, repairing and cleaning accommodation can be linked to the taxable supply of support services or if, as HMRC contend, there is no such link and this input VAT is wholly irrecoverable. AHHA sought to argue that the acquisition and maintenance of accommodation was necessary as part of the overall supply made of accommodation based support services.

The Tribunal gave extensive consideration to case law around the issue of attribution of input VAT incurred by a partially exempt business. The conclusion was reached that the costs, whilst related to the provision of accommodation, were incurred in order that the Appellant had clean, safe and secure premises to enable it to bid for accommodation based support contracts. This constituted a direct and immediate link with the provision of support services.

It follows from this conclusion that the inputs incurred by AHHA in relation to maintain the accommodation were residual and fell to be recovered in line with their partial exemption percentage.

Constable Comment: Certain difficulties present themselves when performing partial exemption calculations, one of the most common is in deciding whether particular inputs should be directly attributed to taxable or exempt supplies or if they fall to be apportioned. Where looking through to the recipients onward supplies it can become difficult to ascertain the correct treatment of input VAT in line with the principles highlighted in this case. If your business is partially exempt and the calculations are complicated it is advisable to regularly review the attribution of VAT incurred and to seek professional clarification to ensure compliance if any obligation exists.



CVC VAT Focus 18 October 2018


HMRC are having difficulty dealing with DIY Housebuilder VAT refund claims and that some claims are being approved and paid up to four months later than the usual 30 days. If you are a housebuilder or are considering submitting a VAT refund claim, in order to mitigate any cash flow issues which may arise as a result of this, please call Constable VAT to see if there is anything we can do to help your particular case.

VAT MOSS exchange rates for 2018

Find currency exchange rates for VAT Mini One Stop Shop (VAT MOSS) businesses registered in the UK to complete declarations.

Charity funded equipment for medical and veterinary uses (VAT Notice 701/6)

HMRC has updated its guidance regarding zero-rated supplies of medical and research goods and services that have been funded by charities.

Making Tax Digital Update

Making Tax Digital for VAT will now not be mandatory until 1 October 2019 for businesses falling into one of the following categories considered by HMRC to be ‘more complex’ businesses. Additionally HMRC has issued more guidance on making Tax Digital for VAT.  The businesses regarded as complex and a list of the new guidance can be found on our website.



Brexit Blog

We have a new article about the potential impact of Brexit on VAT recovery for businesses in the financial services and insurance sectors. In this piece we ask the question “If you had to make a guess on whether your business will be allowed to reclaim more VAT or less VAT if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement what would you say?” Consideration is given to The VAT Specified Supplies Order 1999. If you are impacted by this legislation then this will be of particular interest to you.

Opinion of Advocate General

The Advocate General (AG) has handed down his opinion in the Morgan Stanley CJEU case, which considers VAT recovery rules for costs incurred by overseas branches. Our coverage of this opinion can be found on our website.

This opinion adds another dimension to Brexit planning, which can involve creating new EU businesses with multiple establishments as well as longstanding multi-establishment arrangements. Whilst the CJEU decision need not follow the opinion of the AG, in most cases it does.

If you operate using overseas branches then you should consider your input VAT recovery position now. Constable VAT will be happy to assist in this exercise.




1. Refusal of right to deduct input VAT by the tax authorities

This referral concerned whether EU law on VAT precludes tax authorities from refusing the right to deduct input VAT on the grounds that the company in question failed to submit VAT returns for the period in which the right to deduct VAT arose.

The company, Gamesa, was declared an “inactive taxpayer” by the Romanian tax authorities as it did not submit VAT returns for a six month period in 2011. In 2015 Gamesa was subject to a VAT inspection and was issued with an assessment for the output VAT which should have been declared on the missing VAT returns. The assessment did not allow the deduction of the relevant input tax. Gamesa alleged that this practice infringed the principle of proportionality and the principle of neutrality of VAT.

Giving regard to these principles and the relevant EU legislation on the matter, the Court reduced the issue to one question: is it permissible for the tax authorities to refuse, on account of a failure to submit tax returns, a taxable person the right to deduct input VAT? This was answered succinctly, “As the Court has repeatedly pointed out the right of deduction […] is an integral part of the VAT scheme and in principle may not be limited.”

The Court held in favour of Gamesa and stated that the relevant EU law precludes tax authorities from using this practice.

Constable Comment: This case illustrates the fundamental nature of the right to deduct input VAT in the EU VAT system. It confirms that even if a business has made VAT accounting errors or failed to disclose certain sales, a VAT assessment can be mitigated by demonstrating, accurately, the amount of input tax incurred in the period being assessed which relates to taxable supplies. If you have received a VAT assessment and are concerned about the amounts involved or the entitlement to deduct input VAT has not been taken into account, do not hesitate to contact Constable VAT.


First Tier Tribunal

2. HMRC Best Judgment

This case was an appeal by Derbyshire Motors Ltd (DM) against a best judgment VAT assessment issued by HMRC and a civil penalty for dishonesty. The appellant had declared taxable motor repair services as MOTs which are outside the scope of VAT. DM admitted that this had taken place after initially denying the wrongdoing, albeit not convincingly.

DM was struggling to stay afloat when the “credit crunch” began to take serious hold of the UK economy in 2008/09. Owing to a lack of capital reserves no more money could be pumped into DM to keep it going. Mr Derbyshire, the director and owner, made the decision to treat some repair works as MOT tests to improve the cash position of the business. When HMRC discovered this in 2014 DM no longer had VAT records for the relevant period. HMRC therefore relied on figures from later years to calculate the assessment for underpaid VAT. DM submitted that HMRC had not used best judgment as the assessment was based on material relating to other years.

Analysing previous case law and relevant tests for the application of best judgment were considered and the assessment was upheld. The penalty was also upheld in full.

Constable Comment:  This demonstrates well that simply not having records and not being compliant for years does not mean that tax evasion is untraceable. If taxpayers discover any irregularities or suppressed sales it is always best to be honest and notify HMRC. If you co-operate fully and make an un-prompted disclosure then penalties can be mitigated. Attempting to hide from and mislead HMRC is likely to result in the highest possible penalty being applied. Please contact Constable VAT if you are worried about notifying a disclosure to HMRC, we will be happy to be of assistance.


3. Calculating VAT when prompt payment discount is offered

Virgin Media Limited (VML) made supplies of telecommunications to its domestic customers. 95% of these customers paid a monthly subscription fee, the remaining 5% paid one lump sum for a 12 month subscription which amounted to less than 12 monthly instalments. Output VAT was calculated for all customers using the lower price based on the suggestion that if a “prompt payment discount” is offered then output VAT should be calculated using the discounted amount even if the customer did not take advantage of this discount.

HMRC disagreed with this assertion and stated that output VAT may only be accounted for on the discounted amount where this sum is paid within a specified time period and is taken to satisfy the full amount.

The FTT considered that VML’s supplies could, in theory, benefit from this prompt payment discount pricing. However it was considered that VML, in reality, makes two different supplies at different amounts albeit of the same services.  It was not disputed that where the prompt payment discount is taken by customers that this is the value which should be used for calculation of output VAT. However, since the change in the rules around prompt payment discounts in 2015 it is no longer permissible to account for VAT based on the reduced price unless taken within the time period specified.

Constable Comment: It used to be the case that offering a prompt payment discount allowed businesses to account for output VAT on the reduced price even if this were not taken by the customer. This has since changed and now the discount must be taken in order to account for VAT on the lower amount. If your business offers prompt payment discounts you should consider how to reflect these when accounting for VAT.