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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

RLS: Missing VAT customers: Tracing an address in the DTO

Action on receipt of returned mail in the DTO

Upon receipt of returned mail or other information indicating a customer’s status as missing, the Debt Technical Offices should undertake the preliminary checks shown in the paragraphs below.

Departmental Trader Register (DTR)

Scratchpad and Information Log

Access the scratchpad and Information Log fields on DTR for evidence of any contact from the trader.

Association Field

View the association’s field to identify the details of any associated business that may be able to provide information about the missing trader. See Disclosure third party information.

Electronic Folder (EF)

Examine EF ensuring the following areas are checked for contact details for the trader, their representatives or other relevant information:

  • VAT 1
  • VAT 2
  • 465A
  • summary
  • Audit Report
  • CMTQ
  • all documents going back one year.

When checking information on EF documents are being examined for evidence of:

  • a change of address (or proposals to relocate business)
  • a request (via National Advice Service) for duplicate returns to be issued to an alternative address
  • any other contact with NAS which show evidence of a new address
  • cessation of trading
  • notification of insolvency (see indicators).

Investigation in progress

Where preliminary checks on DTR and EF show that a criminal investigation or prosecution is in progress, contact the relevant Criminal Investigations/LE officer.

Do not attempt any further contact or action as you could prejudice any ongoing investigation.

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Indications of insolvency

In the bankruptcy of an individual or the winding up of a company, the VAT registered address of the business will be changed to that of the insolvency practitioner appointed to take charge of the insolvency. The National Insolvency Unit in Liverpool takes charge of the case. Mail returned from the old address will be redirected to the insolvency practitioner.

In “informal insolvencies”, such as individual voluntary arrangements or trust deeds in Scotland, the address will not necessarily be changed to that of the insolvency practitioner, as the trader will either cease trading or continue trading while his arrangement is supervised by the insolvency practitioner.

  • The Voluntary Arrangements Service, EIS Worthing, takes charge of individual and company voluntary arrangements.
  • Trust deed work in Scotland is centralised in EIS Edinburgh. For more information see the Insolvency manual INS3000.

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Limited companies

Carry out a Companies House check for all limited company cases.

If the company has been dissolved at Companies House then the DTO should take appropriate action and should not refer the case to DMB Tracing Group Cumbernauld.

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Alternative address provided

If you find an alternative address for the missing trader you must ensure that the Register is updated correctly. You should forward details of the change of address to the Variations Section at the National Registration Unit (NRU) for processing.

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Alternative address not found

Where an alternative address cannot be traced, the DTO should:

  • set the missing trader review code 309 on VAT Information System Inter Office Network (VISION) to ‘flag’ the customer as ‘missing’ (this inhibits the automatic issue of VAT returns, prime assessments and default surcharges and any related documents and automatically sets the repayment inhibit)
  • suspend the whole debt to ‘Missing Trader’ on the Departmental Trader Register (DTR) - VAT debt
  • ensure the Scratchpad field is fully updated with details of action taken during preliminary checks
  • save any notes from Scratchpad to Info log as per DTR Best Practice Guide (there should be no notes on the Scratchpad when the case is referred to DMB Tracing Group Cumbernauld
  • transfer the case to DMB Tracing Group Cumbernauld using the ‘xfer’ function on DTR to ‘National Missing Trader’.

Where exceptionally the DTO need to contact DMB Tracing Group, Cumbernauld regarding a Missing Trader case, an email should be sent to DMB, VAT Tracing.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)