Home Rules Employment Taxation VAT › Inspection: What to Expect
VAT Visit and Inspection Procedure

How often you get VAT visits and inspections depends on several factors. This guide explains the procedures for UK VAT checks conducted by HM Revenue and Customs.

VAT VISIT: Several things happen during a VAT visit by HM Revenue and Customs.

As a rule, their VAT officers will inspect your VAT record keeping system. They may also want to see your business premises.

The main purpose of a VAT visit is to ensure you are paying the correct amount of Value Added Tax. They will also check whether you are reclaiming the right amount.

In most cases, HM Revenue and Customs will contact you in advance to set up VAT visits and inspections.

They aim to provide businesses with an advance warning of at least seven (7) days. They would also confirm what particular documents and information they want to inspect.

HMRC will also inform you how long the meeting is likely to take and whether they will inspect the premises. In some cases they will allow you to ‘delay the visit‘ if it is inconvenient.

Note: UK VAT rules do not require HMRC to make an appointment. They can carry out impromptu VAT visits and make telephone calls about tax affairs.

How Often do VAT Officers Visit?

As a rule, VAT inspection frequency and visits from HM Revenue and Customs will depend most on:

  • The size and complexity of the business and its employees.
  • Whether the business submitted incorrect or late VAT Returns on previous occasions.
What to Expect During a VAT Visit

Staff from HMRC will try to work with you on any difficult issues with taxes. Their aim is to correct any problems that you may have with your Value Added Tax account.

Note: They will inform you if you need to pay extra tax and a penalty. Being helpful and cooperative with the VAT check will reduce the amount of a penalty.

After HMRC VAT Visits and Inspections

HM Revenue and Customs will write to you after the check-up is complete. The letter will confirm:

  • Steps you must take to improve the way you manage your VAT records.
  • What corrections (if any) you need to make to your business VAT account.
  • Whether you are overpaying or underpaying the amount of Value Added Tax that you should be.
  • Whether there is a penalty to pay and how much.

Note: If you plan to appeal an HMRC decision you must make the application within 30 days.

VAT Inspection Frequency: What to Expect in the United Kingdom