The "Missing Trader" utterly bonkers HMRC policy! | AccountingWEB

The "Missing Trader" utterly bonkers HMRC policy!

Today's really daft conversation with HMRC:

I went in today to submit an August VAT return for a client only to find the quarter is not on the system.  Per HMRC a bit of mail had come back to them marked "not known here" or similar.

Now I am guessing that most readers of this post will get this from time to time with clients.  Personally, my first assumption is that Royal Mail have messed up and I call the client to make sure they've not moved or anything, surely this is commonsense?

Not in the wacky world of HMRC.  Their immediate conclusion is the guy has ceased trading, so without any further attempt to make contact let's go in and delete all future VAT returns from the system.  And I've just spent five minutes on the phone to a senior manager who had the brass neck to try to defend this load of absolute drivel!



Lost post

pauljohnston | | Permalink

Just to make you smile and to emphasise your point many years I ago I worked in Cheapside at Nat West.  In the bank's monthly staff journal there was a picture of an envelope addressed to the Bank of England Threadneedle Street London EC2, marked "gone away"

i have had exactly the same experience on 2 clients

carnmores | | Permalink

it is very sweet of them to give up - but they will restore the trader and VRN when you bring it to their attention

mr. mischief's picture

not so!

mr. mischief | | Permalink

In fact I've spent ten minutes being given all sorts of reasons why they will not be doing that.  My client is due a refund or I would not be all that bothered.  Naturally they have declined to accept a VAT return (plus workings) by e-mail or post, declined in fact to do anything other than give a promise to call me back on an unspecified date.

I am not holding my breath.

If nothing happens by Monday I'll use the Agent hotline service.  If that fails I have found in the past that a formal Complaint is effective in getting fingers out of assses!

petersaxton's picture

HMRC don't seem to think

petersaxton | | Permalink

Does this mean that nobody connected with this policy at HMRC thinks that they are not dealing with this sensibly?

It would be good to know what their justification is.


BKD | | Permalink

Now I am guessing that most readers of this post will get this from time to time with clients

And some readers will get it on an almost daily basis.


mr. mischief's picture

the HMRC line I got

mr. mischief | | Permalink

The line I got is that they deleted the return option to prevent fraud.  I asked "How do I commit a fraud just by having a return option in the software?"

Reply - "You could then submit a fraudulent return."

Me - "At which point you could call up to check it, or even - I know this is heresy! - call round and inspect the supplier invoices before issuing the cashout."

Reply "That's not in our procedures".

And so on for another few minutes...




missing traders etc

david wilks | | Permalink

Same happened to me. When I politely suggested to whoever it was I spoke with at HMRC that it might have been a good idea to contact me as the duly authorised agent about the returned post the response was also that they don't do that any more!

In addition, it's P35 penalty notice time again - hooray!! £400 fine levied against a client dated 26 September 2011, client emailed Employer Helpline on 16 April 2011 advising of a nil return for 2010/2011. Email acknowledged on 29 July 2011 to say "your employer record for 2010/2011 has now been updated" as no Annual Return to make. I am not bothering to advise HMRC and am looking forward to seeing them in Court.

Clasper's words " that things are improving" are ringing in my ears unless, of course, in his elevated position he is not made aware of the real situation on the ground.

mr. mischief's picture

what really annoys me

mr. mischief | | Permalink

What really annoys me about dealing with HMRC is that the staff will break down any barriers, climb any mountain, pull out all the stops and leave no stone unturned...  all with the goal of ensuring they do absolutely nothing to resolve the problem.

These guys know I am going to the Agent hotline, they know I am going to formally Complain if needs be, yet they stand unmoved in their mission to do nothing at all.

How hard can it be?  I have offered to send in the VAT return plus schedule of invoices by e-mail, post, any method they want.  Surely just saying "Good idea, please go ahead" is easier and cheaper than what lies ahead?


johnjenkins's picture

Not too long ago

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Customs advised "customers" that because they were behind with their paperwork, all new registrations were binned so you had to re-apply. There is much that goes on that we are not privy to and never will be, but the closet is closing rapidly.

abelljms's picture


abelljms | | Permalink

the funny fing is.... HMRCy take nano-secs to bin a VAT regn. on flimsiest of excuses (WITHOUT picking up the phone first). Their attitude is that mere possession of a vat number is clear evidence of being shady.

AND then they take aeons to restore the registration, asking zillions of ques., anything to evade re-registering. And of 'curse' don't give a monkeys that during the de-reg period technically you can't trade etc,......

Funny how they always come up with procedures that are 100% one-sided without even trying.

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