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HMRC assigned me a VAT Monitoring Officer

Without any prior history. Reason Unknown. Any Ideas or anyone having a similar experience?

Didn't find your answer?

Good morning,

Last month, I got a call from HMRC for a VAT inspection. They then send me a letter requesting the inspection (it came from the Fraud Investigation Service). We arranged the VAT inspection and after they gave me a lecture about VAT joint liability, they told me that they want to meet with me on a monthly basis.

I have had VAT visit on other businesses that I run in the past and they were either random or they were looking for something in particular. There were follow up meetings (ussually over email/phone), but no one ever asked to have monthly in person meetings. On the meeting we had they were not looking at something in particular, neither they raised any comments on the way I work. The only comments they raise was about due dilligence and knowing the ins and outs of my suppliers/customers.

Some background on the tax investigation.

When the officer contacted me, I was very suspicious that it was a scam. He left 3 voicemail messages and called 6 times on my mobile (I was on holidays with limited reception). He was not aware of the current director of the company and asked for the previous one (the change happened more that 1 year ago). He had a strong Nigerian accent (he was Nigerian as I discovered when I met him). I called the number he gave me and the lady that replied could not find if he was working for HMRC.

After a couple of hours he called me again. This time reception was good.  I was polite, but raised my concerns on whether he was from hmrc or a scam. So, we might have got off on the wrong foot.

I was also on holidays and could not see him in a week. He pressed me on meeting in a week or seeing a representative of mine. It was mid-August and there was noone available to see him. After a lot of back and forth we scheduled an appointment in approx 2 weeks.

It turned up that he was from HMRC, since I both got an official letter from him and when we met and he showed me his ID.

When we met, I explained to him why I was suspicious and he looked like he understanded it.

The company is trading luxury wrist watches (Rolex, IWC, Patek, etc), so the trade is high risk fo HMRC. The company was also inactive for 2-3 years and I purchase it from a good friend and started trading it immediately. I was trading it for approx 1 year and then got the call for the inspection.

I never had any issues with HMRC or VAT and the whole thing with the monthly visits is a bit too much. Does anyone have a similar experience?

Replies (13)

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RLI
By lionofludesch
05th Sep 2019 08:21

No.

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By WhichTyler
05th Sep 2019 08:59

you can see why they might be worried though... High value highly portable objects are always under scrutiny.

I am sure yours systems are scrupulous so if you demonstrate that at the monthly visits, they might drop the frequency after a while...

http://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/hm-revenue-customs-hmrc/pressreleases/times...

https://www.insidermedia.com/insider/southwest/83519-luxury-watch-retail...

https://www.watchpro.com/uk-watch-dealer-jailed-for-gbp1-6m-vat-fraud/

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Replying to WhichTyler:
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By zirinisp
07th Sep 2019 06:33

I think the main reason is the industry too and probably a company that did not trade for 3 years and suddenly started trading raised some kind of alert.

I keep electronic records for everything so I should be fine record wise. And at the moment don’t do any cash transactions.

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By JCresswellTax
05th Sep 2019 09:00

It does sound like a scam tbh. What's chance of getting a Nigerian tax officer lol

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Replying to JCresswellTax:
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By zirinisp
07th Sep 2019 06:35

There is a chance. Met the inspector, he was real and has been working at HMRC for 30 years. His accent is still with him.

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By SWAccountant
05th Sep 2019 09:21

Speak to your accountant. You shouldn't meet with HMRC by yourself. Even if you've done nothing wrong.

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By JoF
06th Sep 2019 09:25

Never had a problem with this industry, albeit high value, lots of cash involved will involve you in more compliance checks than other businesses.

Sounds dodgy to me. I would say forget ringing the number he gave you. Contact HMRC from a phone number gained independently, although it sounds a bit like he has already shot himself in the foot there if they can't track him down. He should be able to give you a case number you can mention when you phone.

Failing that, insist on meeting him at a local HMRC office. Whilst they are harder to find than they were, there are still a few about, especially in the larger towns and cities.

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Replying to JoF:
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By zirinisp
07th Sep 2019 06:37

The independent line confirm that he is working there. Then I received a formal letter and met him on the inspection. Nice friendly guy that I will be seeing a lot the next months.

I just find it a bit odd that he wanted regular meetings and I am not sure if it was trigger from the fact that I disputed his authority.

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By Tim Vane
06th Sep 2019 00:55

I vote scam. This is not a real HMRC officer. Take a police officer with you for the next meeting.

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By Jdopus
06th Sep 2019 08:40

Was his first point of contact the call? In my experience HMRC will never start an inspection with a phone call - in fact I think they're legally obligated to issue a formal legal letter advising you of your rights and obligations when they open a new inspection.

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Replying to Jdopus:
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By zirinisp
07th Sep 2019 06:38

I know I have the same experience. They always send a letter or email and a phone call might follow.
This inspector took a different approach.

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Replying to zirinisp:
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By Tax Dragon
07th Sep 2019 07:03

Quote:

This inspector took a different approach.

And you have been advised accordingly.

Get your accountant involved. If you don't have an accountant, you are a bigger fool than your responses here already indicate. There may not be much you can do about that, but the good news is you can get yourself an accountant nonetheless.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By zirinisp
07th Sep 2019 19:02

The meeting happened on my accountant’s office. Offcourse an accountant is involved. It does not matter how confident I feel on my VAT knowledge, I want an experts advise. She is not stressed at all at the moment, since there was nothing that raised a flag on the appointment.

I just have never heard the monthly monitoring except from cases where there is history with VAT fraud and I never had any issues with HMRC.

I can confirm that at the moment a lot of watch dealers are being investigated from HMRC.

My questions to the forum are if someone has a similar experience and if maybe disputing the officer’s authority triggered a more “aggressive” inspection.

Since his main points of the HMRC office were due diligence, I explained to him that the due diligence that I did towards him and that I take a similar approach to people o trade with that don’t come with a reference.

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