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HMRC internal manual

VAT Assessments and Error Correction

General assessment procedures: Who makes an assessment

In most cases the officer making an assessment will be the officer who has

  • visited the trader
  • examined his records to establish the VAT liability, and
  • has taken the decision to assess for that amount.

In order to make a best judgement, assessment it is essential that the officer has considered all the available information and taken a view on what is and is not relevant. See VAEC1400

The officer may later have to appear at tribunal to justify his reasoning and demonstrate that his assessment met the best judgement criteria.

In cases subject to fraud investigations, several officers may be involved in collecting and analysing information to establish both culpability and VAT liability. A single case officer should take responsibility for both aspects, or alternatively there should be a designated assessing officer within the investigation team.

In any event it should be made clear at the start of the case who is going to be the assessing officer. It will be this officer who is called upon, where necessary, to demonstrate their reasoning for the assessment at any tribunal. It is important, therefore, that this officer is aware of all relevant facts when making the assessment.

In cases where, having made his assessment, the officer does not have local access to VALID computer system seat for input of the assessment, the completed VAT641 should be forwarded to the appropriate local office for processing.

Where necessary, investigating teams may also need to seek technical assistance on assessment matters from the local office during the course of their investigation.

In some fraud cases the investigating team may, with agreement, choose to pass the evidence to the local office for a non-investigating officer to make and notify the assessment.

For a local officer to make the assessment it is absolutely essential that he has sufficient knowledge of the case, and all the information required, to enable him to make an assessment to his own best judgement - not simply on the instruction of the investigating team.

In complex investigations it is unlikely that a local VAT officer will be sufficiently familiar with all the relevant aspects of the case and in such circumstances the assessment should always be made by the investigators.