Tag Archives: update

CVC VAT Focus 26 April 2018

 

HMRC NEWS

HMRC has updated guidance on its website as follows:

Register for VAT if you own land with another person

Find out if you need to register for VAT jointly or as an individual when you buy, let or develop land with another taxable person.

VAT registration for groups, divisions and joint ventures

Link to VAT registration for people who own land with another person added to ‘Joint ventures and VAT’ section.

Tell HMRC about an option to tax land and buildings

Notification of an option to tax land and or buildings (VAT1614A) form has been updated.

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.

 

OTHER VAT NEWS

We understand that HMRC has begun to contact firms directly regarding the VAT treatment of electronic searches following the Brabners LLP VAT case summarised on our website. The Law Society has issued guidance which can be viewed here.

 

 

CVC BLOG

VAT recovery, supplying insurance and the benefits of customer location

Exempt supplies do not normally provide a right to reclaim VAT on costs incurred in making such supplies. However, certain supplies that would ordinarily give no right to VAT recovery may be ‘specified’ to do so when the customer is located outside the EU. Follow the link to read our most recent blog, by Robert Thorpe, which explains this further.

 

CASE REVIEW

 

CJEU

 

1. Time limits on right of deduction of input tax: Portugal

In Biosafe, there were taxable supplies made in 2011 from one VAT registered trader to another (Flexipiso), in the course of business, with appropriate supporting documentation. Under EU VAT law, this gives rise to a right of deduction of the input tax incurred by the purchaser in the relevant VAT period on purchases which relate to those taxable supplies. Flexipiso recovered the relevant input VAT, charged at the reduced rate of 5%, incurred on purchases from Biosafe. Several years later, Biosafe were subject to a tax inspection which revealed that the reduced rate of 5% had been incorrectly charged. The Portugese authorities assessed that the supplies were subject to the standard rate of VAT of 21% (Portugal) and Biosafe paid over the monies assessed.

Biosafe sought reimbursement from Flexipiso who refused to pay on the grounds that, under domestic law, their right to deduction of input VAT expired four years after the original supply was made. This brought two questions before the CJEU. The first being, does EU law preclude domestic legislation which prevents the four year period during which a right to deduction arises beginning again on the date assessment documents are issued to the supplier. The second being, if the answer to the first question is no, does the EU law preclude domestic legislation which, in the current situation, makes it legitimate for the purchaser to refuse to pay VAT when it is impossible to deduct that additional tax?

In response to the first question, it was held that the Directive does preclude domestic legislation where the right to deduct input tax is refused on the ground that the time limit for that right started to run from the date of the initial invoice. In the light of this response, the Court held that the second question did not require an answer as it follows logically from the first that a taxable person may not be denied the right to recover input tax by domestic time limits.

CVC Comment: This case confirms that where input tax has been deducted at an incorrect rate, the right to recovery by the business incurring the incorrect expense cannot be precluded by domestic time limits on the right to recovery.

 

2. Interpretation of EU Law on deduction adjustment

This case concerning SEB Bankas AB (SEB) was related to a supply made to SEB by VKK Investicija (VKK) of building land. Initially the parties had agreed that the transaction was subject to VAT. Some years later VKK decided that the supply was VAT exempt and raised a credit note to SEB to reflect this. This left SEB owing the authorities the input VAT originally deducted on the transaction. A fine was raised on SEB by the authorities as well as the assessment to tax. After progressing through domestic courts, questions came before the CJEU regarding the interpretation of the EU law on VAT adjustments.

The key questions before the court were; whether the obligation to adjust undue VAT deductions applies where the initial recovery could not have been made lawfully as the transaction was exempt and, if so, whether the mechanism for doing so applies in situations such as those in the main proceedings. The Court held that the EU law does require the adjustments of VAT deductions which should not have arisen because VAT was charged unlawfully.

As regards the date on which the adjustment should be made, the CJEU held that this is for national courts to decide, taking account of the principles of legitimate expectation and legal certainty and that a taxpayer’s deduction of VAT cannot, applying the principle of legal certainty, be open to challenge for an indefinite period.

CVC Comment: Where a deduction of tax has been, mistakenly, unlawfully made in relation to an exempt supply, then there is a duty on the person making the deduction to make an adjustment when this is discovered. Whether or not the obligation arises immediately is a matter which has been left open to domestic interpretation. It appears that UK policies are already in line with this decision insofar as in most cases, after four years, VAT periods are no longer open for a mandatory adjustment.

 

3. Triangulation and EC Sales Lists

Firma Hans Bühler, a limited partnership established and VAT registered in Germany and also identified in Austria for VAT purposes, bought products from suppliers established in Germany. Those products were sold to a VAT registered customer in Czech Republic. The products were dispatched directly from the German supplier to the customer in Czech Republic. The German supplier provided its German VAT registration number and Firma Hans Bühler’s used its Austrian VAT registration number on its invoices provided to the Czech Republic customer. The triangulation simplification was used; as such, the final customer in the Czech Republic accounted for VAT due in the Czech Republic.

The Austrian tax authorities found that Firma Hans Bühler’s supplies were ‘abortive triangular transactions’ because the reference to triangular transactions did not appear on Firma Hans Bühler’s EC Sales List.

The CJEU stated that the triangulation simplification cannot be refused because the EC Sales List has been submitted late. In addition, it is not relevant that Firma Hans Bühler’s Austrian VAT registration number was no longer valid on the date it submitted its EC Sales List (it is relevant that the VAT number is valid at the time of the supply). If the failure to submit correct EC Sales Lists on time meant that the taxpayers could not evidence the conditions for triangulation had been met, the triangulation could not apply.

The CJEU also commented that the benefit of the triangulation simplification cannot be refused on the basis that the intermediate supplier is VAT registered in the member state of dispatch.

CVC comment: the judgment confirms that the triangulation simplification can apply even if the taxpayers EC Sales Lists are not compliant provided the taxpayers can evidence that all of the conditions for simplification are met.

 

First Tier Tribunal

 

4. Sufficiently Self-contained?

This appeal by Colin James Mitchell and Kim Louise Mitchell concerned the recovery of input VAT under the DIY Builders Scheme in respect of the construction of a building in their garden. HMRC had initially refused the recovery on the grounds that not only was the building was not “self-contained living accommodation” but also that the planning consent prohibited the separate use of the building from the house; conditions necessary for a claim under the DIY Builders Scheme.

In order for a refund to be successful the building must be self-contained living accommodation and a key issue between the appellants and HMRC in this case was the absence of a kitchen in the new building. HMRC contended that this meant the building was incapable of being self-contained. The Tribunal agreed, on this point, with the appellant who argued that the ability to install and use a microwave was sufficient for the building to be constituted as self-contained.

The second prong of HMRC’s contention was the prohibition of separate use of the building in the planning permission, “…shall not be used as a separate residential unit at any time” amounts to a prohibition on separate use. They also add that the planning permission for a “garage” cannot be construed as a “dwelling”.

The Tribunal agreed with HMRC on the second point and dismissed the appeal.

CVC Comment: In cases where planning permission specifically forbids separate residential use of a construction then the Tribunal are unlikely to find in favour of the applicant. Prior to any expenditure on development it is vital that the tax implications be considered and this involves detailed analysis of the proposal and planning permission granted.

 

5. Printed matter: Zero-rated goods or standard rated service?

In this instance, The Tribunal had to decide supplies by Paragon Customer Communications Limited (Paragon) to Direct Line Insurance Services (DLIS) amounted to, as Paragon contended, a single supply of booklets comprising of predominantly zero-rated matter or, as HMRC contended, a supply of services, of which booklets were not a predominant element. It is also asserted by HMRC that some of the booklets supplied as zero-rated were in fact not supplies of booklets and so should have been standard-rated.

Paragon supplied various documents in relation to insurance documents for DLIS including advertising, standard Terms and Conditions, appraisals and reminders. The question came before the Tribunal as a result of an assessment on Paragon who HMRC contended was making a single, standard-rated supply of services based on the preparation and packaging involved in the process of supplying the products, the envelopes used and separate documents which were not part of the main supply i.e. the aforementioned appraisals and terms and conditions documents. Paragon appealed this assessment by HMRC on the grounds that the supplies made were one composite supply of zero-rated booklets, this was, in essence, a question of single or multiple supply.

Whilst the Tribunal considered multiple cases, including the single supply criteria in Card Protection Plan and issues of divisibility considered in Levob Verzekeringen BV, the conclusion of the Tribunal was relatively clear; Paragon is successful in its appeal against the assessment. It is held that packaging and delivery of the disputed documents is, in this instance, considered to be a single, zero-rated supply of booklets.  

CVC Comment: this decision may have a wider implication, in particular for charities. Many charities cannot recover VAT incurred because of their non-business and/or VAT exempt activities. HMRC changed its policy some years ago with respect to the VAT liability of direct mailing services (standard rated). This decision may call into questions HMRC’s policy. It will be interesting to see if this decision is appealed by HMRC to the Upper Tribunal.

 

CVC VAT Focus 12 April 2018


PARTIAL EXEMPTION

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 review these annual adjustments for clients if required.


HMRC NEWS

VAT: road fuel scale charge tables

VAT Updated Valuation Table: Road Fuel Scale Charges effective from 1 May 2018 added to the page.

VAT Notice 700/11: cancelling your registration

This notice tells you when and how to cancel your VAT registration.

VAT Notice 700/1: should I be registered for VAT?

This notice cancels and replaces Notice 700/1 September 2016.

Apply for the Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme (Notice FH1)

Page updated with link to new application service and further information what information needed to apply to register.


 CVC BLOG

Sale of donated goods by a charity – an opportunity to reclaim VAT incurred

 

Where certain conditions are satisfied, the sale of donated goods by a charity is zero-rated for VAT purposes. This can be beneficial because no output VAT is due on the income generated by these sales but a right to input VAT recovery on associated costs arises.


CASE REVIEW

First Tier Tribunal

 

1. Reasonable Excuses?

 

In this instance the Tribunal heard an appeal from an individual, Mr. Phillip Ashley Legg against HMRC’s decision to impose various surcharges ranging from VAT accounting periods 12/05 to 12/14.
During this period, Mr Legg only made two payments from 14 September 2006 and 29 June 2012. Mr Legg sought to contend that he had a reasonable excuse for his behaviour in that he had contacted HMRC to establish a payment plan for the surcharges and by 2014 he had cleared all actual VAT arrears. Mr Legg relied heavily on the fact that his profits took a large drop in the period in question, owing to a rapid decline in his area of business.
Whilst the Tribunal accepted a sharp decline in the business had taken place, it still held that this was not a reasonable excuse as the down-turn took place over a number of years and Mr. Legg should have, as a prudent businessman, made adaptations to evolve and fortify himself against changing market conditions. The Tribunal were more sympathetic towards Mr Legg’s catastrophic hard drive errors which led to a severe loss of data. They also took into account that during the period in question, Mr Legg’s father was ill and Mr Legg played a large role in his care.
The important test in relation to a ‘reasonable excuse’ relates to whether or not the taxpayer has behaved reasonably in his or her circumstances. Whilst the Tribunal confirmed that a down-turn in business could not constitute a reasonable excuse, the death of a close relative and fatal computer crashes losing to loss of accounts can. For these reasons, the Tribunal allowed the appeal in half, cancelling a selection of those surcharges not relating to the decline in business activity.


2. Supply or unsolicited delivery

 

This appeal related to whether the applicant, Quality Engines Direct Ltd (QEDL), supplied silver ingots to Microring, a potential purchaser of the company. Whilst in the process of dealing with a transfer of his business, the proprietor (Mr. Rafiq) engaged with a purchaser (Mr. Healey) who immediately began treating the business as his own; making deposits and withdrawals and using the business address. HMRC questioned two invoices relating to the sale of silver from Mr. Rafiq to Mr. Healey which took place before the transfer of QEDL. The veracity of these invoices was denied by Mr. Rafiq, who denied any supply of silver was made to Microring or to Mr. Healey, or that QEDL makes supplies of silver at all, and that he owes no VAT on this alleged supply. He contended that the invoices raised by Microring are not genuine and there had been no silver trade activity with Microring at all.

Mr. Rafiq claimed that delivery of the silver to his business address was not sanctioned, the packages remained unopened as they were unsolicited and he informed Mr. Healey to remove the packages, which he did.

The Tribunal agreed on appeal with Mr. Rafiq that the delivery of silver was unsolicited, the invoices had been recreated by Mr. Healey on behalf of Microring. The Tribunal found that as the packages of silver were unsolicited, unopened and removed as a matter of urgency, that QEDL had not made a supply to Microring and Mr. Healey had in fact made the order.


3. Omitted sales and disallowed input tax

 

In this case, Mr. Paul Shore, trading as “DP Contractors”  disputed a decision by HMRC in relation to his 04/11 VAT return. Mr Shore submitted that in this period of trading he was owed a £3,025.60 VAT repayment. HMRC submitted that due to under-declared output VAT of £16,599.40 and over-declared input VAT, Mr. Shore in fact owed £14,605.52 to HMRC.

Mr. Shore traded as DP Contractors which he claimed HMRC had confused with D&P Contractors, a separate firm to which he was a partner alongside Mr. David MacMillan. D&P Contractors had tendered for a contract with Southern Electrical Contracting Limited (SEC) using Mr Macmillan’s VAT registration number as Mr. Shore was not, himself, registered for VAT. Whilst Mr Macmillan was taken ill, Mr. Shore continued to trade using the VAT number of D&P Contractors whilst establishing himself as a sole proprietor “DP Contractors”.

Mr MacMillan played no role in the business being done for SEC by Mr. Shore and ceased to trade with D&P Contractors owing to injury and received no payment from Mr. Shore for on-going work. D&P Contractors issued over 190 invoices to SEC without declaring these on VAT returns and could offer no reasonable explanation for this. Mr. Shore attempted to highlight some discrepancy between the names of the firms but, as the Tribunal found, the same VAT registration number and bank account were used in continuing the trade by Mr. Shore and that the suppressed sales were correctly assessed on Mr. Shore, despite his pleas that Mr. Macmillan was jointly responsible.

Irrecoverable input tax which had also been deducted by Mr. Shore for items such as power showers were also disallowed and a forgery was uncovered for the purchase of a lorry. The Tribunal dismissed all appeals by Mr. Shore and upholds the assessments in full in relation to the suppressed sales.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CVC VAT Focus 11 January 2018

We would like to wish our regular readers and subscribers a happy and prosperous 2018.

HMRC NEWS 

HMRC were busy during the last couple of weeks of 2017. The following documents were published or updated on the gov.uk website:


CVC BLOG

In CVC’s latest blog Helen Carey considers HMRC’s policy on VAT zero-rating and new buildings further to the recent Information Sheet 07/17 issued by HMRC.


CASE REVIEW 

Court of Justice of European Union (CJEU)

1. Special derogating measures – Avon Cosmetics

Avon Cosmetics Limited sells products through independent representatives. Most of these representatives are not VAT registered. Avon sells products to the representatives at a price below the retail price Avon envisage will be achieved. Sales to representatives are subject to VAT. The sales made by the representatives are not subject to VAT. The effect of this business model is that VAT is not accounted for on the difference between Avon’s selling price and the representative’s selling price. To remedy this situation the UK obtained a derogation from the EU to deviate from the standard rule that VAT is charged on the actual sales price. As a result Avon calculates output VAT due based on the representative’s expected selling price. Two adjustments are made to this calculation to take account of the fact that some products are purchased by the representatives for their personal use and some products are sold by the representatives at a discount.

Avon claimed a refund of overpaid VAT in the sum of £14million on the basis that the special derogation does not take account of the VAT incurred by the representatives on demonstration products. According to Avon, these purchases amount to business expenditure and the VAT relating to those purchases would be recoverable if they were VAT registered.

The matter was referred to the EU on the question of whether the derogation and its implementation infringed the EU principles of fiscal neutrality. The CJEU found that the measures implemented as part of the derogation do not infringe the EU principles and the UK is not required to take account of VAT incurred on purchases used for the purposes of the representatives’ economic activity.

CVC comment: this is an interesting case before the CJEU which considered whether a UK derogation infringed the EU principles of fiscal neutrality.


Upper Tribunal

2. VAT exemption for welfare services 

HMRC appealed against the First Tier Tribunal’s (FTT) decision that the UK law was incompatible with the Principal VAT Directive by recognising supplies made by charities as exempt from VAT but not those made by LIFE Services Limited. LIFE is a profit making private organisation which provides day care services for adults with a range of disabilities. Gloucestershire County Council monitors and inspects LIFE’s services which are provided under a formal care plan agreed with the social services department of the Council.

The Upper Tribunal considered that the FTT erred in its decision. The UK has adopted two criteria for determining which non-public law bodies should be entitled to the VAT exemption for welfare services. The first is that the body is regulated. The second is that the body is a charity. To be able to successfully argue UK law breaches the principles of fiscal neutrality LIFE must be able to demonstrate that it falls within the same class as one of the criteria.

The UT found that LIFE cannot equate itself with regulated bodies because, for LIFE, regulation is optional. Similarly, LIFE cannot say it fall within the same class as a charity because it is not subject to the same constraints and regulation as a charity, and it does not operate for the public benefit. HMRC’s appeal was therefore allowed.

CVC comment: this decision by the Upper Tribunal appears to confirm that UK legislation is compatible with the Principal VAT Directive. This decision will be disappointing for private welfare providers that do not fall within the criteria set by the UK for determining which bodies should be entitled to the VAT exemption for welfare services. LIFE is stood behind another case, The Learning Centre (Romford) Limited (TLC), in respect of another issue. TLC have argued that the UK welfare exemption breaches the principles of fiscal neutrality in that bodies making supplies in Scotland and Northern Ireland making identical supplies are granted exemption. 


First Tier Tribunal

3. Whether the construction of a cricket pavilion was zero-rated

Eynsham Cricket Club is a community amateur sports club (CASC). The Club appealed against the decision of HMRC that services supplied to the club in the course of constructing a new pavilion were standard rated for VAT purposes. The club argued that the services were zero-rated because the pavilion was used for a “relevant charitable purpose” (RCP). For the purposes of the VAT zero-rate, RCP use means use by a charity either otherwise than in the course of a business; or, as a village hall or similar.

The Tribunal found that the Club was not established for charitable purposes at the relevant time; therefore, the Club’s appeal failed.

This decision is considered in more detail in our VAT & Charities Newsletter.

CVC comment: this was a revised decision by the Tribunal following review. This case provides an interesting commentary regarding all of the conditions which must be met in order to obtain zero-rating for RCP use. 


4. Whether free admission to events run by a charity are non-business activities and the VAT recovery implications

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society, a charity, carries out a range of activities which include holding events and hiring out facilities. In total there are approximately 700 events each year. No admission fee is charged in respect of two of the charity’s events. HMRC considers that these two events are non-business activities and, as such, disallowed input tax incurred that directly related to these events. The charity appealed this decision.

HMRC’s policy is that the free supply of services by a charity is a non-business activity. VAT incurred which directly relates to non-business activities cannot be recovered.

The charity argued that the events generated taxable income from catering. A third party provides catering services on the site. The charity receives a share of the income generated by the third party. The Tribunal found that there was no direct link between the free events and the charity’s share of catering income. The charity also argued that there are links between the free events and the Great Yorkshire Show (an admission fee is charged). However, the Tribunal was not satisfied that there were sufficient direct and immediate links between the free events and the Show. The costs relating to the free events could not be said to be cost components of the Show or the charity’s other economic activities. The charity’s appeal was dismissed.

CVC comment: the Tribunal did not consider whether input tax incurred on general overheads that could not be directly attributed to any particular activity of the charity could only be partially recovered. 


5. Membership – single or multiple supply

Owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles may join the Harley Owners Group (HOG). HOG is a business unit of Harley-Davidson Europe Limited (HDE). HDE appealed against HMRC’s decision that supplies made by it to members of HOG in consideration for membership subscriptions constitute a single, standard rated, supply for VAT purposes. HDE contends that it makes a number of distinct supplies to each member and the VAT treatment of each benefit must be determined separately.

Under HMRC’s approach VAT is chargeable on all membership subscriptions regardless of where the members belong. Under HDE’s approach no VAT is chargeable on supplies to members outside the EU (being zero-rated supplies of goods and/or services); and, a substantial proportion of the membership fee paid by EU members relates to zero-rated printed matter.

Benefits received by HOG members include a magazine, patches and pins, maps, e-magazine, museum entry, events and online access.

HMRC’s primary argument was that there was a single principal supply of membership and all other benefits were not ends in themselves but a means of better enjoying the principal element; however, the Tribunal found that members do not join HOG simply for the status of being a member. The typical member wants the individual benefits. In addition, while the Tribunal Judge did consider it relevant that a single price was charged and members did not have the ability to choose what benefits are supplied (suggesting a single supply), it is clear from case law that this is not determinative. The Tribunal concluded that the individual benefits provided are too significant to allow the supply to be characterised as a single supply of membership rather than a number of independent supplies. HDE’s appeal was allowed.

CVC comment: this decision provides interesting commentary regarding the distinction between single and multiple supplies for VAT purposes. This topic has been considered a number of times before the Tribunals and Courts.  


We also issue specialist Land & Property and VAT & Charities newsletters. If you wish to subscribe to the Land & Property newsletter please email laura.beckett@ukvatadvice.com. If you wish to subscribe to the VAT & Charities newsletter please email sophie.cox@ukvatadvice.com.