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HMRC - VAT visit

HMRC - VAT visit

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I'm in the process of taking on a new client.  Professional clearance letters have gone out. No replies received.

Client has had a call from HMRC(VAT)  today wanting to visit him on Monday.  He has delayed them until 25/04/16

Is it normal to visit premises when client is home based? Can I delay them further until I get then VAT records from the previous agent?

The Ltd co provides driver training.  Its been trading just 3/4 years.  The client is home based.  I suspect the records are a mess.

Any tips/advice?

Replies (11)

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By Ruddles
06th Apr 2016 14:28

Does the client have other premises?

If he doesn't, where would you suggest that HMRC carry out the review - Starbucks?

Of course, there is always your own office ...

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By stepurhan
06th Apr 2016 14:41

Alternative venue

In the car he does the training in. Especially if the training involves doing high speed manouevres safely, which he would need to demonstrate to the inspector of course. :-)

What records does the client actually have themselves? How long has professional clearance been underway? Is there scope for collecting from the old agent yourself?

HMRC may be reasonable if you speak to them, but presumably you don't have the authority to do so at present. Get the client in to give you temporary authority and you may be able to get them to see reason in the circumstances. They may simply say that the delay already given provides sufficient time to get the records from the old agent. You'd still have established a willingness to co-operate early on that you can use if you get nearer the date and they haven't.

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By johngroganjga
06th Apr 2016 14:45

Yes I would explain to HMRC that client is in between accountants and can they defer visit until a new accountant, currently expected to be you, is appointed.

Meanwhile go through your professional body's procedure for dealing with a predecessor's failure to reply to a clearance letter (assuming it is late, although you don't say) so that any delay in you being able to accept appointment is minimised.

Regarding the location for the visit, Ruddles says it all.  

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By thomas
06th Apr 2016 15:11

The response from the previous agent isn't late - I only sent the letter on Monday.  Its simply the timing that is off...Client doesn't seem to have anything and I'd like some time to familiarise myself with the accounts and VAT. I'm slightly apprehensive as I have only dealt with VAT issues via letter with HMRC, I've not actually dealt with a visit. Client doesn't want the old accountant involved - which may have been the easiest solution as he has prepared all of the returns to date.


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By zebaa
06th Apr 2016 17:06

That sound you can hear in your head... an alarm bell. Take care.

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By crofte
08th Apr 2016 11:57

Home visit

Yes, it is quite normal, I've had it happen twice and I would either talk to HMRC or get the client to do it.... I would certainly want to see the books and VAT returns before I attended a visit for a new client, and if you find anything blatantly wrong you can pre-warn the client of the possible consequences....

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By CatherineR5
08th Apr 2016 12:06

Don't worry unnecessarily

One of my clients (off-licence) has just had a VAT inspection, for no reason other than they've been trading for 4 years and hadn't had one yet.

I couldn't attend (prior arrangement) and client didn't want to delay for personal/family reasons so I reviewed her files, and briefed her up to the eyeballs.

And apparantly it all went swimmingly - the VAT inspector was utterly charming, was there less than 2 hours and once he'd seen she basically wasn't trying to hide anything (he asked a few questions about cash-handling and mates-rates) they talked about cricket.

The VAT inspector said that a 'routine visit' is perfectly normal at about 4 years trading, and that she'd probably never hear from them again.

So it was all alot of panic about nothing.

But Phew all the same!

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By lionofludesch
08th Apr 2016 12:19


The up side is that you can blame everything on the previous accountant.

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By Ebutler
08th Apr 2016 14:38

I quite welcom home visits, keep the client busy and build up a rapport with the inspector, lots of biscuits help. The last one I attended resulted in me giving careers advice for his daughter and having found one tiny over claim to justify the visit, he left. However, in my experience driving instructors are a nightmare, there will be lots of bars of chocolate on every fuel receipt and tying up cash receipts is a miserable task.

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By BroadheadAccountants
08th Apr 2016 15:26


I would take my time and postpone further if necessary.


In terms of making HMRC more welcome and controlling the situation I think an empty board room best.  You want to be able to leave the visitor with key papers and be able to take copies for them in your office.


You can also have the client deliver the key documents to you ready for the meeting with sufficient time for you to be best prepared.


You can also excercise control over the client-HMRC liaision and terminate a meeting by stepping outside whereas in the client's premises this would seem stranger.

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By Malcolm McFarlin
08th Apr 2016 20:35

HMRC still not a joined up department

It is quite normal for VAT inspectors to visit a business where it trades from. The old Inland Revenue were usually happy to visit the agents address or simply receive papers through the post.  The VAT inspector likes to look at the credibility of a business and the officer can compare your client's lifestyle and surroundings to sales declared.

I don't think you have too much to worry about.

HMRC still operate differently at times despite now being joined up.

Malcolm McFarlin



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