Thanks for the replies, everyone, particularly the "shocking lack of understanding of basic tax principles" - haha ! Yes, I have to agree with you all now, it's just odd that I'd never come across this particular issue before despite 20+ years of Self Assessment. As to paying in advance, no I suppose he isn't really, although compared to everyone else sub £1000 he is doing so. Anyway, client not too bothered by having to pay the tax sooner, quite rightly says it all comes out the same in the end.
Ok, many thanks, everyone, for the replies.
These clients have two businesses - I completed the first VAT return as normal, then the odd thing is that just a few mins later was unable to do the other. Neither has been signed up for MTD yet as these are qtrs ending May.
So at present it seems that the VAT system is inaccessible for pre-MTD returns, or those voluntarily registered.
I'll do what's been suggested and wait a few days then try again. Dread phoning - you wait about 30 mins to get through before being told you've got the wrong number ! Although have to admit that the agents' line is brilliant.
Thanks, everyone, for the useful replies.
As far as I'm aware there are no DSS benefits (certainly nothing on the b/statements) but I'll check this and good idea, Phil, to pre-empt the penalties if poss. Presumably this would mean writing to HMRC prior to sending in the returns.
Need to get the returns in by the end of April, before the next 2017 penalties kick in. For earlier years, they seem to max out at £1600 p.a.
I tried sending in an amended 2015 return back in January (for a pension claim) but was unable to do this - had to be done by correspondence and was quite a rigmarole with client having to sign a statement etc.
No I didn't, Ruddles. Just had a look at McMillin but don't think it would further the cause. Seems an odd case, really, and not surprised she lost it.
I think Portia's probably right in saying that HMRC was wrong in Ruddles' case.
Anyway, what I've done is what was suggested by Rhino at the outset, i.e. claim the road as plant but put a note on the tax return giving full details.
So now can only sit back and hope HMRC doesn't look at it anyway !
This has been a most interesting thread, and thanks again to everyone for your input. I've printed it all off for the file, so have so ammo if needed.
Yes, agreed, Ruddles. Probably what the HMRC guy had in mind was offsetting rental losses against other income, which you cannot do.
We had a VAT inspector recently who was completely unaware of de minimis.
Thanks for the further comments, everyone.
Pumnoo, hadn't thought of it as being a revenue item - good point. Although in reality I cannot see any sense in ripping up the road afterwards as a) it's a needless expense and b) it may be needed for maintenance access in future. Although may be worth doing if it made it tax allowable, I suppose it would only take a day or two with a JCB !
I'll get back to the client about it, hopefully going to see it next week anyway.
Thanks for the further replies, everyone. In this case I don't think there is a building per se, more of a housing which is integral with the plant although I have yet to see it.
So this is a hydro-electric installation, Liono - there's a couple of km of large bore pipe running downhill to the turbine itself, very high water pressure at the bottom as you can imagine. As it's in a National Park, a lot of the piping had to go underground, which added to the cost. But the feed-in tarriff is 16p per kWh and it generates 40 kW day in, day out (maybe less in summer) so clearly quite a nice bit of diversification income.
Thanks again, Rhino.
Portia, I don't have time at the moment to delve into it, but a few years ago farmer clients began installing biomass generators and my research at the time showed that alterations to a building specifically to house the installation also qualified as plant; seem to recall that it was fairly unequivocal. So it wasn't actually a new building, not sure offhand whether that would qualify. But it's all a bit of a grey area !
Thanks again, as you say it's good to have the help.
Sorry, just seen the other replies. Thanks, DJKL, for the added twist ! And Portia, I think the road will be used afterwards for maintenance, but that's probably all. The thing finally got up & running last week.
Thanks, Tim, Portia and Rhino. Good idea, Rhino, I think I'll do the same. You couldn't have the engine without the building to contain it, and you couldn't have the building without the road to access it. This was essential as there was, amongst others, a procession of concrete lorries, the engine itself and a crane, all of which could not have got to the site otherwise.