The directors of Curtiss Ltd were no doubt delighted as their turnover increased during 2016, from £700,000 2015 to £2.75m, 2016. They had had elected to submit a VAT return once a year, the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme, and flushed with their recent trading success, were a little tardy in submitting their annual VAT return.
The December 2016 return should have submitted by 28 February 2017. It was actually submitted 7 June 2017. Payments on account had been made, but due to the increased turnover during 2016, there was a balance owing to HMRC of £215,233.
HMRC were not amused and issued a penalty notice for £26,948.
Under the Annual Accounting Scheme users have an obligation to make good any difference between an actual liability and any payments made on account; and to file their return by the due date. The company appealed against the penalty notice, but the appeal was turned down.
It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall at Curtiss Ltd; who was responsible for preparing the VAT return, why was the filing delayed?
Clearly wires had been crossed and the directors were obliged to learn the hard way that an apparent ignorance of the rules is no excuse in law. When we enter into arrangements with HMRC we need to appreciate the risks and act to avoid or minimise the consequences of deviating from the agreements we have made. We need to abide by the rules.
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