Assessments, adjustments and demands for tax: Liability to interest on export assessments
Court of Appeal case – Musashi Autoparts Europe Ltd
Where an assessment is raised and the trader subsequently produces satisfactory evidence of export or removal, it is important to remember that any interest charged on the assessment is still legally due. This is supported in the Court of Appeal case between the Commissioners and Musashi Autoparts Europe Ltd (formerly TAP Manufacturing Ltd)(2003/0658).
The company made supplies of goods which qualified for zero-rating under section 30(8) ofVAT Act 1994. However, initially the company failed to provide the documentary evidence of removal and an assessment was notified for the tax on the supplies, together with a charge for interest under section 74(1) of VAT Act 1994. Subsequently, evidence to prove that removals took place was produced. The assessment was not withdrawn. However, a voluntary disclosure was submitted for VAT overdeclared. This balanced the VAT assessed but the interest charge remained. The company appealed.
The tribunal (LON/99/809) allowed the appeal but the High Court reversed this decision and upheld the assessment to interest. Lightman J held that
“When it is open to the taxable person to establish that his supply is zero-rated but he fails to do so, the taxable person and the Commissioners are to treat the supply as standard-rated and the Commissioners are empowered to make an assessment imposing an obligation to pay VAT and interest on this basis.”
The subsequent satisfaction of the conditions for zero-rating did not have retrospective effect, and “the satisfaction of the liability under the assessment of VAT in no way discharges or undermines the assessment for interest. The liability for interest accrued (as it could only accrue) during the period of the liability for VAT. On satisfaction of the liability for VAT, there could be no further accrual of interest, but the liability for accrued interest continues undisturbed. The satisfaction of the conditions for zero-rating gives rise to no separate credit in respect of the liability for accrued interest.”