VAT returns – a note of caution

By:   Andrew Stephenson

Under the current regime whereby businesses have to submit their VAT returns via HM Revenue & Customs Online system only one return can ever by submitted by this method for each VAT return period.

We have been made aware of the situation where HMRC have informed a business that there had been some unusual activity in relation to their VAT returns.

On discussing the situation with HMRC it appears that there are a small number of businesses who are having attempts made by outsiders to amend their VAT return information, file bogus returns or change the frequency of their VAT return periods from quarterly to monthly.  These attempts are all designed to obtain fraudulent refunds of VAT from HMRC.

In at least one case the fraudsters managed to file what they purported to be a genuine VAT return but which the business hadn’t as yet prepared, fortunately HMRC do monitor returns and so picked up the anomaly.

If you encounter any difficulty in filing your VAT return via HMRC online I recommend that you contact HMRC straightaway.  By difficulty I mean the situation where you know there is a return yet to be submitted but HMRC Online says it has already been filed.