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January 11, 2013

HMRC to scrutinise firms falling behind on VAT

Up to 50,000 businesses that have failed to submit their VAT returns will be targeted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with warnings that their tax affairs will be closely scrutinised.

More than 600,000 businesses have to submit VAT returns every month and most do so on time. But, in a new campaign, some 50,000 businesses will be warned that, from 28 February, their tax affairs will attract greater attention.

The VAT Outstanding Returns campaign is aimed at businesses that have one or more VAT return outstanding, and have been told to submit their returns but have not done so. Some will have received an assessment of VAT for these periods.

These businesses are being given an opportunity to get up to date and pay the tax they owe by 28 February. After that, HMRC will target them and take a much closer look at their tax affairs. If business owners come forward voluntarily, HMRC says they could receive better terms, as any penalty they pay may be lower than if HMRC comes to them first.

Marian Wilson, head of HMRC campaigns, said: "If HMRC has sent you a VAT return and you have not yet taken any action, this campaign is a reminder to bring your tax affairs up to date. But time is running out. After 28 February, if you have not submitted your outstanding VAT returns and paid what you owe, HMRC will use its legal powers to pursue outstanding returns and any VAT that is unpaid. Penalties, or even criminal investigation, could follow."

HMRC is urging business owners to complete and pay any outstanding VAT returns immediately. They should also tell HMRC if they have stopped trading or have changed their business details. Businesses that need help can go to the HMRC website or call the VAT Helpline on 0845 010 9000.