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HMRC internal manual

VAT Fraud

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

What to consider prior to determining whether to use an intervention: matters to consider when looking at particular types of taxable person or activity: box breaking and box consolidation: introduction

There is growing evidence to suggest that individuals and/or businesses previously involved in Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) fraud (VATF23500) are engaging in box breaking and box consolidation.

It should be noted that box breaking and box consolidation are not, in themselves, illegal activities.

There have been reports of VAT irregularities occurring with box breakers, such as:

  • false invoicing;
  • multiple use of invoices;
  • inadequate accounting systems; and
  • possible links to the manipulation of the reverse charge for specified goods and services (VATREVCHG).

The above list is not exhaustive.

In this section of the guidance the following terms are used:

  • ‘box breaker’ refers to a taxable person who purchases mobile phones that are locked into a particular network and unlocks them so that they can be used on any network;
  • ‘box consolidator’ refers to a taxable person who purchases ‘sim free’ mobile phones or other goods from either retail outlets or from other box consolidators or box breakers and consolidates these purchases into a single onward order;
  • ‘runner’ refers to an individual (whether an employee of the box breaker or box consolidator or not) who makes the purchases from the retail outlets .

This section of the VAT Fraud Guidance Manual has been written to assist you when conducting assurance visits on box breakers and box consolidators. It:

  • gives a brief description of box breaking and box consolidating (VATF36220);
  • looks at issues that need to be considered concerning box breaking and box consolidating (VATF36230); and
  • what to do if you decide to deny input tax (VATF36240).