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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Assessing Time Limits: The Time Limits: When the new time limits take effect: VAT - normal time limits and transitional provisions

The normal 4-year time limit, see CH52100, for making assessments for VAT purposes applies from 1 April 2009.

Without further provisions, on 1 April 2009 you would be able to make assessments under the 4-year time limit for periods that on 31 March 2009 were out of time under the previous 3-year time limit. Transitional provisions prevent this by disregarding a prescribed accounting period that ends (or the date of any acquisition, importation or event giving rise to a penalty that falls) on or before 31 March 2006. This means that by 1 April 2010 the 4-year time limit will apply in full.

So although the 4-year time limit applies from 1 April 2009, you cannot make assessments under this time limit for prescribed accounting periods ending on or before 31 March 2006. Nor can you make an assessment that relates to acquisitions, importations or events giving rise to a penalty, see CH51700, that occur on or before 31 March 2006.

This table demonstrates how the transitional provisions apply.

Date of assessment
  Earliest date the assessment can apply to* Reason  
  28 February 2009 28 February 2006 Date of assessment before 1 April 2009 so 3-year time limit applies.
  31 March 2009 31 March 2006 Date of assessment before 1 April 2009 so 3-year time limit applies.
  30 April 2009 1 April 2006 4-year time limit cannot extend to assess periods* ending earlier than 1 April 2006.
  31 October 2009 1 April 2006 4-year time limit cannot extend to assess periods* ending earlier than 1 April 2006.
  31 March 2010 1 April 2006 4-year time limit cannot extend to assess periods* ending earlier than 1 April 2006.
  30 April 2010 30 April 2006 4-year time limit applies in full.
  31 October 2010 31 October 2006 4-year time limit applies in full.

 * The end of the prescribed accounting period or the date of acquisition, importation or event giving rise to a penalty.

More guidance on the normal time limit is at CH52100.

These transitional provisions apply equally to claims.

SI2009 No 403 Article 2(1)

SI2009 No 403 Article 3 - 6