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HMRC internal manual

VAT Assessments and Error Correction

General assessment procedures: Definition of an assessment

The procedural guidance in this manual only covers the VAT Mainframe and VISION processes. For guidance on the Making Tax Digital and ETMP processes for fully migrated customers, see VAEC0200 and the Making Tax Digital for VAT compliance toolkit.

Although there is no legal definition of what ‘an assessment has been made’ means, the courts have interpreted the law to mean that an assessment is made once you have finished calculating the amount of tax due and a final decision to assess that amount has been taken.

This is normally considered to be when the amount has been

  • quantified
  • documented
  • checked
  • signed and dated.

The documentary evidence of having made an assessment may be, for example the signed and dated schedules.

The raising of a form VAT641, the computer input document for the notification of an assessment, is the first stage in the notification process and is a consequence of the decision to assess, rather than the actual making of the assessment itself.

Often, however, the VAT641 may be the only documentary evidence of the making of an assessment and the date it was completed may have to be relied upon to show when an assessment was made.

The VAT641 should normally be raised on the same day as the assessment is raised or shortly after.

Two examples of a made date are

  • There may be occasions where an amount has been quantified, documented, checked, signed and dated on a separate schedule, but not yet transferred onto a form VAT641. If you took the final decision to assess the amount calculated at the time you signed and dated the schedule the assessment was made at that time and not when the form VAT641 was completed.
  • You may have issued a pre-assessment letter, giving a business time to respond to the preliminary calculations on which your assessment is to be based. Although you may have prepared a VAT641 before the response time had elapsed, you should not have completed it until after the deadline for response has passed as it is only then that you can take your final decision to assess. In this case the made date is likely to be the date you finally completed the form VAT641.