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HMRC internal manual

VAT Export and Removal of Goods from the UK

HM Revenue & Customs
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Assurance procedures: Sampling the trader’s export and intra-EC transactions

This is very much dependant on what you find when you establish what the trader is doing. If the trader is compliant, aware of the requirements, obtains adequate evidence within the required time limits, and chases up any evidence that hasn’t been sent, you would check less transactions than you would with a non-compliant trader.

Periods to check

Normally you would not check any periods prior to any checked on a previous intervention. However in certain circumstances for example where fraud is suspected, you may need to go back to those periods. In general it is probably easier to check more recent periods as the evidence should be more easily available. If you find problems in these periods you will need to go back further. If the trader’s export and removal business has not been checked for a number of years you should ensure that you check a number of representative periods during that time. It is always good practice to establish typical trading patterns with the trader before you select the periods to check. In the event of assessment action this will stop any later arguments about the selection of non-representative periods in the calculation of the assessment.

Number of transactions to check

This is very much dependant on the trading activity that you find. If for example the trader has relatively few high value transactions (say on average 10 per month) you may wish to check every one for a year. If however there are hundreds or thousands of transactions per month you will have to check a percentage. The percentage chosen is very much a judgement call - but 5% to 10% would be reasonable. Whatever percentage you decide on you should make sure that you cover all types of transactions in a period. For example if the trader exports to 10 different countries or uses 6 different hauliers make sure that your checks cover all the countries or hauliers.