In Financials, Opinion, Startup Management

On a couple of occasions recently I have been given advice by customers on issues relating to VAT.

On one occasion a customer told me I should not be charging VAT on expenses such as train tickets as they were VAT exempt.

On another, a large organisation tried to pursuade me to categorise my services in a way that would avoid their incurring a VAT liability.

In both cases, senior people in substantial organisations with vastly more experience than me were very convincing in the advice they offered.

On each occasion it didn’t sound quite right to me based on my very limited understanding of VAT, so I called the HMRC helpline.  After a few minutes wait, I was able to get through to someone who listened to the situation and told me how they thought it should be treated for VAT purposes.  In each case, they informed me that the advice I was getting from my customer was not appropriate for the situation I was in.

There are two aspects of this that people seem surprised by, so I thought I should share them on this blog:

  1. Other people, such as customers, may understand their own tax and VAT, but their situation may be different to mine
  2. The HMRC Helpline really is very helpful

So don’t get caught out by believing all you hear – if in doubt about tax matters check with an independent service such as the HMRC helpline, Business Link, or a professional accountant!

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