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HMRC apologies for VAT registration delays

Neil Warren explains how business owners and their agents can reduce errors on the registration form and get the required VAT number issued as quickly as possible.

9th Mar 2021
Independent VAT Consultant
Columnist
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January 2021 rush delays VAT numbers
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HMRC recently apologised for delays issuing VAT registration numbers due to a high volume of applications. But the tax department also called on business owners and agents to reduce the number of errors on applications, which has slowed up the process.

What can be done to reduce these errors and what should a business do if its VAT number hasn’t arrived in time?

It has been a long time since I completed a VAT1 application online, so I decided to do a dummy run with an imaginary company. Needless, to say, I didn’t press the final send button.

The system is very efficient compared to the paper process. When reviewing paper applications for accountants, I have noticed how easy it is to either tick the wrong box or not answer an important question. 

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Replies (12)

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Pile of Stones
By Beach Accountancy
09th Mar 2021 17:33

Of course, it's not like HMRC knew Brexit was coming, did it?

Thanks (3)
Replying to Beach Accountancy:
Morph
By kevinringer
10th Mar 2021 13:09

They're so out of touch they probably didn't.

Thanks (0)
Replying to kevinringer:
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By Brimmos
15th Mar 2021 12:28

kevinringer wrote:

They're so out of touch they probably didn't.

Here personal tax advisor near me
http://yourbooksontime.com/tax-advisors

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By Hugo Fair
09th Mar 2021 19:42

If "the computer gives a very helpful red “X” if you have missed anything out", then presumably you can't complete/submit the online registration form with errors in it.
In which case, I can't see the relationship between "HMRC recently apologised for delays issuing VAT registration numbers due to a high volume of applications" and "the tax department also called on business owners and agents to reduce the number of errors on applications".

This is classic HMRC smoke-and-mirrors ... apologise for something that IS their fault, but then muddy the water by suggesting it wouldn't have been a problem if it wasn't for those pesky business owners & agents (who are apparently always making unspecified errors)! It's the standard text-book approach they apply to problems with RTI, MTD, CGT and many other areas.

Thanks (9)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
Quack
By Constantly Confused
10th Mar 2021 08:06

Hugo Fair wrote:

If "the computer gives a very helpful red “X” if you have missed anything out", then presumably you can't complete/submit the online registration form with errors in it.
In which case, I can't see the relationship between "HMRC recently apologised for delays issuing VAT registration numbers due to a high volume of applications" and "the tax department also called on business owners and agents to reduce the number of errors on applications".

I presume the errors were all on the paper submissions.

This is classic HMRC smoke-and-mirrors ... apologise for something that IS their fault, but then muddy the water by suggesting it wouldn't have been a problem if it wasn't for those pesky business owners & agents (who are apparently always making unspecified errors)! It's the standard text-book approach they apply to problems with RTI, MTD, CGT and many other areas.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Constantly Confused:
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By Hugo Fair
10th Mar 2021 10:22

I assume you 'presume' because that's the way logic dictates ... but this is HMRC we're talking about where the land of logic is yet to be discovered!
It's not a safe assumption - as I said the attributed HMRC quote is redolent of the deliberate conjoining of unrelated 'facts' that is their hallmark when an excuse is required.
I spent several years fighting this approach of blame-anybody-but-us with RTI ... but could never get them to see that if the "errors" could be quantified then payroll software could be amended to generate appropriate warnings or even to prevent those errors occurring at all.
But the reality was that they preferred to have the (unquantified) fig-leaf to hide behind because otherwise they might have to admit that some errors were their fault (poor specification, post-submission processing, etc) ... even though I kept pointing out that allocating historical 'blame' wasn't an issue compared to the benefits of likely future improvements.

Thanks (1)
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By Paul Crowley
09th Mar 2021 22:17

I can readily sympathise with employees of HMRC
There just are not enough of them

The problem is at the top
They were miss-sold on MTD by computer software industry. Some compensation should be available
There was a simple system of getting all the numbers electronically that was not broken.

How many times do we hear 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'
They failed to learn that simple software can only do simple VAT

So rather than learn, they decided that 6 return like things per income type (so often that means 12 or 18) is better than 1 tax return done correctly per year

And today I learn that 100,000 new traders get letters and up to 3 telephone calls and an email and a quickly disappearing dropbox
Probably with the expectation that nearly nil will actually be read ( just like all the MTD ITSA returns)

When will they learn that if they cannot cope now EVERY system change just means more failure to cope
There is no pot of gold

Thanks (5)
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By ralan
10th Mar 2021 09:58

So why when we sent a paper form in early November 2020 when the online service was not working and I called them mid December and they confirmed thay had received it and I finally spoke to someone at 08.10 this Monday can't they find the application.

I was given an email address to contact so did but still no reply.

Sorry but they are taking the Mickey and are using Covid-19 as an excuse to cover up their inefficiencies.

Had problems getting through because the answering service just kept saying they were busy and cutting us off after spending minutes listening to a load of rubbish been spouted out

-10 for unefficiency

Thanks (2)
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By bosclibby
10th Mar 2021 10:04

Sad to say that my opinion is HMRC are a shambles
A client applied to register for VAT in October, had a letter checking her NI number in January (which to my knowledge was correct) and here we are 10th March still not registered.
Two VAT self build claims - one sent in Oct, the other Nov. No repayments yet received. A minor query was raised on one after the client rang in February. The other chased in January, was fobbed off, he's complained but still nothing.
HMRC blame covid staff shortages, people working from home etc. Oh really? - us Agents have had to cope with this plus God knows how much extra work. Truth is HMRC were, in general, pretty awful before Covid, it's just worse now and I too blame those at the top.

Thanks (4)
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By markabacus
10th Mar 2021 14:46

Applied for a client's company to be Vat reg'd including Opt to Tax on 21st Oct back dated to 20th Aug. All done online, heard nothing from HMRC until the client rec'd the Vat certificate 15th Feb issued on 4th Feb. Opt to tax came thru on 22nd Feb.
Then we have to start the client authorisation, why can't they do this at the same time when the agent made the application and issue an authentication code?
And then finally we have to activate it for MTD when I thought all new reg'n defaulted to MTD
It just never seems to get any easier, these days I have ponder where to login and which ID to us, may be time to retire? Heavens help me with MTD for Income Tax

Thanks (2)
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By SDGREEN
12th Mar 2021 08:41

Apologising is all HMRC seem to be capable of at the moment - chasing refunds is a constant hassle with no end in sight, complaints don't get dealt with, the agent dedicated line is extinct, any queries of any note gets referred to someone who doesn't have access to a phone for at least 5 days. So frustrating and so much of a shambles!

Thanks (1)
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By jwgrogan
24th Mar 2021 10:39

"The Business Delivery Team at HMRC have provided an update on VAT registration delays.

We’re currently dealing with a high volume of VAT Registration applications. As a result, we’re processing around 70% of these applications within 30 days and the majority of those cases within 5 working days. We’re prioritising this work and expect to be processing 95% of VAT Registrations within 30 days by the end of March 2021. We are sorry for any delays."

Given that there are hundreds if not thousands of EU applications that are still taking over 90 days, I cannot see how this is anything but a bare-faced lie.

Thanks (0)