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HMRC VAT Campaign

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HMRC announces the VAT Outstanding Returns campaign

An opportunity for non-filers to bring their VAT up to date

HMRC has launched its latest campaign, aimed at VAT-registered traders who have one or more overdue VAT returns. The VAT Outstanding Returns campaign offers the opportunity to bring their affairs up to date.

This is the latest in HMRC’s programme of campaigns, or disclosure opportunities. These are designed to encourage voluntary disclosure: the obligation is on the taxpayer to come forward and meet their obligations by a set deadline. The campaigns offer a carrot and stick approach: favourable terms for those who come forward, but a tough approach to those who do not.

To take advantage of the VAT Outstanding Returns campaign the business must complete and submit the outstanding returns and pay the tax due by 28 February 2013. HMRC is not explicit about how penalties might be mitigated for those who take up this opportunity, beyond saying that “If you submit your return to HMRC now you will get the best terms available”. If VAT Returns are still outstanding after 28 February, the taxpayer’s affairs will “receive closer attention from HMRC”.

Most campaigns have two deadlines, first to notify HMRC that you intend to take part and the second to make the disclosure and pay the tax. This campaign – like the previous VAT one – has just the one deadline, 28 February.

There may be some VAT-registered businesses that no longer need to do returns, eg because they are no longer trading or turnover has fallen. These should (or in some cases, could choose to) de-register. They should contact HMRC.

More information about campaigns is on the HMRC website. This included details of current and forthcoming campaigns:
•At the moment, in addition to the latest VAT campaign, there is one other live campaign, the Direct Selling campaign, which has a deadline for disclosures of 28 February 2013.
•A Property Sales campaign is due to start in March 2013 and is aimed at undeclared sales of residential property other than a main residence.
•The Trades Sweep-Up Campaign, a follow-up to previous campaigns aimed at plumbers, electricians, etc, was due to start in December 2012 but has been postponed. Those who were intending to make a disclosure under this campaign should contact HMRC’s Campaigns Voluntary Disclosure Helpline