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VAT

We regularly advise businesses on a range of domestic and international VAT issues.

VAT is a complex area of the law; a complex area of the law which is continuously changing. And the greatest change is yet to come as the legal framework within which VAT sits is likely to be modified following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

More so than ever before, an understanding of how VAT operates, an understanding of registration and an understanding of compliance are essential for businesses to enable them to avoid failing to charge VAT when appropriate. They are also essential to avoid the unnecessary costs of not being able to reclaim VAT. What's more, penalties for non-compliance are increasingly severe.

Due to the complex nature of VAT, businesses can find themselves in conflict with HMRC. This may be due to differing views on the VAT liability of a transaction; it might be as a result of late compliance; or because they have received penalties. HMRC are also increasingly challenging the structure of commercial transactions and perceived VAT avoidance arrangements – these challenges can lead to protracted disputes.

We have achieved successful outcomes in negotiations with HMRC, on internal reviews, and by way of litigation before the Tax Tribunals and higher courts. 

Our highly experienced team are members of bodies such as the VAT Practitioners Group. We are recognised by independent legal guides, The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, as a top-ranking firm in tax litigation.

What we do

  • Pre-litigation negotiation and settlement
  • Review, analysis and advice on the liability of transactions
  • Mitigation of penalties imposed by HMRC
  • Compliance requirements
  • Advice on cross-border aspects of transactions
  • Dawn raids, VAT fraud investigations and prosecutions
  • International VAT issues
  • Alternative dispute resolution

Relevant work

  • Revenue and Customs v (1) SDI (Brook EU) Limited (2) Sportsdirect.com Retail Limited [2017] UKUT 327 (TCC) – we recently defeated HMRC in an interim application before the Upper Tribunal; the case concerns the scope and application of Article 33 of the Principal VAT Directive (distance selling)
  • Acting for the director of a group of companies charged with large-scale VAT fraud
  • Completing a review for a client concerning the correct treatment of services for UK VAT purposes and successfully negotiating an agreement with HMRC regarding the payment of outstanding amounts of VAT and reduced penalties for the inaccuracy
  • R (Premier Foods (Holdings) Ltd) v HMRC (Q Cold intervening) [2015] EWHC 1483 (Admin) –  we acted for Premier Foods which was successful in its judicial review challenge. The case concerned whether a customer had a right to recover mistakenly paid VAT in circumstances where its supplier was in administration; the court ordered the assessments raised by HMRC to be quashed
  • Acting for an international bank in relation to a dispute with HMRC regarding the VAT liability of multi-jurisdictional securitisations and an alleged tax liability within the UK