VAT inspections

One of life's certainties is that if you are a VAT registered business, sooner or later you will receive a check of your VAT affairs by an HMRC officer, either at your business location or increasingly remotely. VAT inspections, or 'checks', as HMRC prefers to call them, are an integral part of the system. Their main purpose is to ensure that your returns are an accurate reflection of your business activities and VAT liability.

However, their frequency is by no means predictable. You may find yourself singled out at any time if:

  • You have a history of poor compliance
  • There has been a change in the pattern of your VAT returns
  • Your business is seen as high risk (e.g. a cash business, a partly exempt business)

The higher the perceived risk, the more likely it is that you will receive a VAT visit in person, rather than a questionnaire and follow-up telephone call.

Don't be caught out

The cost of being caught unawares by a VAT visit can be considerable. You could find yourself facing:

  • Hours of valuable time wasted
  • Extra costs incurred in sorting out all the paperwork
  • Potential penalties and interest charges
  • The possibility of a follow-up enquiry by HMRC

A VAT visit usually has two parts:

  1. It begins with an interview, during which the officer will seek a broad understanding of your accounting system and general commercial activities. He or she will be looking for possible areas of weakness in your accounting records.
  2. During the second part, the officer will examine your records to ensure that you have completed your returns correctly. Constraints of time will mean that he or she will probably focus on sensitive areas identified during the original interview. An assurance is visit is not an audit, but rather a series of appropriate checks so that the officer can form a view as to the credibility of returns filed and corresponding payment made or refunds received.

If you are not prepared, or if you are not sure of your facts, a visit can be a daunting experience. We can make your life easier by attending the meetings and assisting with answering the questions. This could save you considerable time, expense, and inconvenience. As with most other things, a professional helping hand in this area can add real value to your business.

We can help you avoid unnecessary cost and inconvenience by:

  • checking that your VAT summaries agree with your returns
  • reviewing non-routine operations such as large or unusual transactions, where mistakes are more likely to occur
  • ensuring that you pay the correct scale charges on cars for which you incur the fuel costs
  • reconciling your disclosed turnover with your annual accounts
  • simplifying your procedures by arranging with Customs for your VAT return dates to coincide with your annual accounting date
  • minimising penalties and interest charges by sorting out any errors we detect with Customs.

Contact us if you would like further help or advice on this subject.

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SJD Accountancy

SJD Accountancy are the UK's largest specialist provider of fixed fee, Limited company accountancy services to contractors; we've been acting for contractors across the UK since 1992 and have more than 15,000 clients.

We are the only national specialist firm of contractor accountants with offices nationwide. SJD Accountancy has more qualified staff than any other firm in our market with qualifications from the following major tax and accountancy bodies - ATT, AAT, CTA, ACCA, CA, ACA and FCCA.

  • Unlimited face to face meetings. This is a unique service only SJD Accountancy offers - unlimited face to face meetings across the UK - tax is complicated and sometimes only a meeting will do.
  • UK's largest contractor accountants with more qualified staff. No call centres, no outsourcing, no automated call handling. Simply telephone, email or meet your own dedicated accountant face to face.
  • Our Customer Promise. Respond to any question sent to your accountant or any dedicated department within 24 hours.  If we need more time, we will update you as soon as we can and we promise to keep you informed of the progress we are making in answering your question.
  • Outstanding reputation. We have won more awards for customer service and accountancy excellence than any other firm in our market, including: Best Accountant for Contractors, Accountant of the Year and Best Professional Service Team to name just a few.
  • All inclusive low cost fixed fee accountancy package which includes completion of accounts*, payroll bureau, dividends and corporation tax computations, personal taxation, free bookkeeping software, your own dedicated accountant* and all company returns for a fixed fee starting from £120 plus VAT per month. Check our packages for more detail.

If you have any questions about contracting or would like any further advice please call our new business team on 01442 275789 or email: Our new business team is open Monday to Thursday (8am to 8pm), Friday (8am to 7pm) and Saturday (10am to 4pm)

Appoint SJD Accountancy and never worry about your tax or accountancy affairs again.

Form your own limited company with SJD - our same day online company formation service includes company bank account set up, VAT/PAYE registration and advice on optimum share structure. 

You may also find the following pages, guides and case studies useful:

*If you would like us to complete your company year end accounts we simply ask that you have been a client of SJD for one year or have made 12 monthly payments. All accountants are part or fully qualified.