Don’t ignore VAT because it won’t ignore you!

Every year, the VAT rules and regulations become more complex, and although it’s one of the Government’s key sources of revenue, it’s businesses who are responsible for collecting it – and accounting for it.

Because VAT is so intricate, business owners often end up overlooking some of its finer points. That’s understandable, but it’s also dangerous. Mistakes can be costly.

Timely VAT advice can pay for itself by helping you avoid the pitfalls and achieve big savings. Our expert team offer a no obligation free initial consultation and we can discuss how to help you with various elements, more details can be found below.

Alternatively, if you need more information on our VAT services, please contact our VAT Helpline on 0845 408 1724 or email You can also visit the VAT section of our blog to see our most recent topical articles and VAT advice.

  • VAT Registrations and Returns

    Compulsory registration

    Whether you are starting out in business or have been trading for a number of years, all unregistered businesses need to be aware of their registration obligations.  Once the VAT threshold (currently £83,000) has been breached then HMRC must be informed within set timeframes, and failure to do so can result in penalties.  We can assist you with monitoring your turnover, and where necessary can register your business for VAT on your behalf.  

    Voluntary registration

    Unregistered businesses that are under the VAT threshold may in some circumstances benefit from registering for VAT voluntarily.  An example would be where all of your customers are VAT registered themselves.  We can assess your circumstances, advise on the best course of action, and register your business if required.

    Ongoing obligations

    Once registered, a business must keep proper records and submit returns on an ongoing basis. We can assist you in preparing your returns and meeting all of your VAT obligations.


  • HMRC Enquiries and Investigations

    HMRC investigations can be lengthy and complicated. Our dedicated experts can provide specialist assistance when a business is facing a VAT investigation.  Our senior specialists include ex-HMRC officers who can offer practical help in getting the dispute concluded.  

    As a firm, we offer a Tax Fee Protection Service which covers the cost of us defending you against an HMRC enquiry, giving you peace of mind. More details of this service can be found here.


  • VAT Healthchecks

    A recent rise in targeted VAT investigations and associated assessments, coupled with the latest penalty regime and potential interest charges leaves many businesses exposed to risk.

    Larking Gowen’s specialist VAT team, which includes former senior HMRC employees, has devised a VAT health check designed to replicate an HMRC investigation. The objective of the check is to help ensure a business’s compliance with the latest VAT legislation/HMRC policy, and to mitigate the risk of penalties.

    To arrange a visit or for more information please contact a member of the team.


  • Property Transactions

    VAT problems in relation to supplies of land & property and construction are notoriously complicated.  It is one of the few areas where any of the VAT rates and exemption can apply.

    This is the sector that our experienced VAT team are most involved in. Issues include those in connection with the construction of new buildings, the sale of property, liability of rentals, options to tax and transfers of properties as a going concern. It is difficult to express the potential complexities involved.

    Due to the risk of error and large sums of money involved, we recommend that the VAT implications of all property transactions are reviewed at the earliest possible opportunity.  VAT planning advice in advance of a transaction, can help ensure that your VAT exposure is minimised.


  • Partial Exemption

    Where businesses make both VAT taxable and VAT exempt sales then they are deemed to be ‘partially exempt’. The impact of being partially exempt is that a business may not be able to recover all of the VAT that it incurs on its costs. Every partially exempt business must carry out a calculation when preparing each VAT return to determine how much VAT it can recover, and then a final calculation must be performed every year.

    HMRC prescribe a standard partial exemption calculation method.  This method does not always achieve the best outcome for a business, and where appropriate a Partial Exemption Special Method (PESM) can be agreed with HMRC.  

    Our team can assist you on your partial exemption calculations, and will advise on the best way to maximise your VAT recovery. 


  • VAT Schemes

    HMRC offer a variety of special VAT schemes which can save businesses time and money:

    • Cash accounting scheme
    • Annual accounting scheme
    • Flat Rate Acheme
    • Second-hand schemes
    • Retail schemes
    • Flat rate scheme for farmers
    • Tour operators margin scheme (TOMS)

    Each scheme has its own set of eligibility criteria, and what is appropriate for one business may not be for another.

    Our team are able to review your circumstances and advise on the most efficient VAT scheme for your business.


  • International Trade

    In these days of the global marketplace it is common for UK traders to do business with customers and suppliers based outside the UK.  The rules on international trade are very complex, and the correct VAT treatment can be determined by a variety of different factors.

    Our team have experience in advising in this area, and are able to assist you with the following:

    • Dispatches/acquisitions of goods within the EU
    • EC Sales Lists
    • Intrastat
    • Distance sales
    • Imports/exports
    • Intra EU supplies of services
    • Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS)


  • Specialist Areas

    Our experienced team can advise on a wide range of VAT matters.  We have a diverse portfolio of clients, and this gives us the ability to provide help and assistance to a number of different sectors, including:

    • Local Authorities
    • Academy schools
    • Charities & not-for-profit organisations
    • Tourism
    • Energy
    • Construction
    • Motor trade