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VAT Numbers

VAT Numbers

My girlfiend and I had a meal at an Italian restaurant. After paying for the meal I picked up the receipt and was amazed to see it quoting the VAT registration number 123 4567 89. I immediately thought that this VAT number was utter boloney. I later decided to check the validity of the VAT number on the Europa website. The number was complete rubbish and so my initial thoughts seem to have been proven correct. Does anyone know of any legitimate reason why a trader would quote this VAT number?

Also I remember (in the distant past) being told of another way of checking VAT numbers i.e. through a simple multiplication exercise. Does anyone know of this?


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By Anonymous
09th Oct 2008 14:13

Whilst I agree what he is doing is wrong
I wouldn't be at all surprised if there is a simple explanation, ie whoever set up the till didn't know the number, put this one in so they could proceed to the next step in the set up and no one has ever bothered to go back and correct.

Not that this excuses it, but I would't take this as proof that he is not VAT registered, but is pretending he is.

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09th Oct 2008 12:08

VB VAT Number Checker
Once upon a time, I wrote a small VB application to check these numbers.

You can find it here:

One day, I may even add in the algorithms for the rest of Europe....but not today =]

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By Anonymous
09th Oct 2008 09:48

Surely . . .
. . . that's the default number entered by the till manufacturer and the simple explanation is that nobody's bothered to change it?

OOps - should have read all of Mark's post!

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By Anonymous
09th Oct 2008 09:03

The "876...97" test
To test the potential validity of a VAT number the test is...
Multiply 1st digit by 8
2nd by 7
3rd by 6
4th by 5
5th by 4
6th by 3
7th by 2
Add up the above results
Minus off 97 - if it's a negative value this gives the final two check digits; if it's a positive value deduct off 97 again so as to obtain a negative value that should equal the check digits.
An Excel spreadsheet can be set up to do the calculations and quickly give an instant "potentially valid" or "can not be valid" result.

As for the incorrect number used by a trader in a retail / till receipt scenario this might be a default number programmed into a new cash register where the trader is meant to overwrite the 123... number with his/her own registration number.

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By Anonymous
09th Oct 2008 09:01

Pocketing the cash...
If the retailer is saying he is charging VAT but providing a fake VAT number, then I can only conclude he is 'collecting' the VAT from you but not paying it over to HMRC.

So basically it is fraud.

Best send a copy of the receipt to the local VAT office and ask them to investigate straight away and maybe visit the establishment yourself and ask for your VAT back....depending upon how "authentic Italian" the owners are, you may not want to do this last suggestion.

Even if he is paying over the VAT, the receipt is still invald for VAT purposes and means someone like you could reclaim this VAT as a business expense and then find HMRC will want the VAT back from you once they do an inspection of your business and fine the receipt invalid.

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09th Oct 2008 08:58

VAT sum

This is a link to a site that shows you how to work it out.

Hope this helps.


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