HMRC targets outstanding VAT returns

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will be sending warnings out in January to up to 50,000 companies that have not submitted VAT returns, cautioning them that their tax status will be examined carefully.

Over 600,000 commercial enterprises submit VAT returns monthly and the majority do so in a timely fashion. However, in a new push, around 50,000 companies will be cautioned that beginning February 28, closer attention will be paid to their tax issues.

The HMRC's VAT Outstanding Return push is targeted at commercial enterprises with one or more outstanding VAT returns.

HMRC has asked the companies for these outstanding returns, but they have not complied.

A number of the companies will be receiving a VAT assessment. They will have the chance to bring their VAT up to date by paying the outstanding tax by February 28.

From March 1, HMRC will be examining companies and scrutinising their tax issues very carefully.

With the campaign, HMRC wants businesses to volunteer to come forward to right their tax situations.

Those companies that come forward voluntarily may get better terms and if a penalty is levied it may be lower than if HMRC goes to the company first.

"If HMRC has sent you a VAT return and you have not yet taken any action, this campaign is a reminder to bring your tax affairs up to date. But time is running out," said Marian Wilson, head of HMRC campaigns.

"After 28 February, if they have not submitted their outstanding VAT returns and paid what they owe, HMRC will use its legal powers to pursue outstanding returns and any VAT that is unpaid. Penalties, or even criminal investigation, could follow."

People are invited to participate in the campaign by immediately filling out the VAT returns and paying any outstanding tax, and also by letting HMRC know if they are no longer in business or if there have been any changes in their business contact details.

HMRC is offering the public assistance through its VAT Helpline on 0845 010 9000.

Copyright Press Association 2013