Disclosure of documents

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The Worldpay (UK) Ltd appeal concerns merchant acquirer services. This preliminary Tribunal decision addresses questions as to whether the taxpayer should disclose certain documents to HMRC.

Whilst HMRC had not argued that the arrangements were abusive or a sham (para 36), there was clearly a question of VAT planning. The preliminary decision hints at a number of technical VAT issues: (1) whether a supply of ‘remittance services’ was taxable or exempt, (2) whether the ‘remittance services’ were part of the wider merchant acquirer services (ie: a single or multiple supply), and (3) the terms of a Partial Exemption Special Method.

This preliminary hearing addressed whether the taxpayer should disclose certain documents to HMRC prior to the substantive hearing. These documents related to the contractual arrangements. This question seems to be cropping up more frequently. Whether it is a matter of the taxpayer being secretive, or HMRC going beyond the terms of the legislation is a moot point! The lead case on the disclosure of documents is Ebuyer [2016] UKUT 123 ( http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/TCC/2016/123.html).

Although HMRC seem to have been successful in this case, the Tribunal did criticise their approach (see paras 22 & 35).

My summary of HMRC’s position is: ‘We don’t like what you’re doing. But we’re not sure why. And we won’t tell you why we don’t like what you’re doing. Please give us lorry loads of paperwork so we can reach a decision.’

You can read the Worldpay decision here: http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKFTT/TC/2019/TC07082.html

About Les Howard


Hi, I am a VAT Consultant, working mainly with charities. I am based in Cambridgeshire

I have over 20 years experience in VAT, and am currently also a part-time member of the Tax Tribunals.

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