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Electronic submission of VAT returns


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23rd October 2013

A partnership of beekeepers were also members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The Appellants believed that a certain passage of the Bible required them not to use electric devices and consequently they did not submit their VAT returns electronically.

The Appellants claimed exemption from on-line filing of the returns on religious grounds. The Appellant appealed against HMRC's refusal of the claim finding that the Church did not consider their beliefs to be incompatible with the use of electronic communications. The Tribunal decided that, if seen purely as a question of the normal rules of construction and without reference to the effect of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Appellants were not entitled to the religious exemption. However, the requirement to file online was a restriction on the Appellant's right to manifest their religion within Art 9(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the restriction was not justified within Art 9(2). Therefore, the Appellant's appeal was allowed.
There have also been four similar VAT appeals where the Appellants were unable to submit VAT returns on-line. The Tribunal allowed three of the appeals as it ruled that HMRC's requirement that VAT returns must be submitted on-line was disproportionate as it failed to provide an exemption for elderly individuals, disabled persons or persons living too remotely for reliable internet access.

The above cases will be of interest if you have any clients that experience real difficulties filing VAT returns on-line.

About the Author

The VAT People are leading VAT and Customs Duty consultants based in the North West of England. We work with a wide range of businesses throughout the UK as well as assisting our accountancy colleagues to unravel the thorny VAT issues for their clients. We are one of the UK's largest and most comprehensive sources of VAT and Customs advice, our consultancy team having over 140 years of experience in VAT and Customs gained in either HMRC or a Big 4 accountancy practice environment.

Call us on our VAT helpline 0800 077 4604 to discuss. All initial discussions are free with no-obligation.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-10-30 09:12:30 in Tax Articles

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