The Kittel principle intervention: Kittel in more detail: Problems determining where the fraudulent evasion of VAT lies: Hijacked VAT numbers
What is a ‘hijacked’ VAT number?
A ‘hijacked’ VAT number is a VAT registration number (VRN) of a taxable person which has been used by another entity (the ‘hijacker’). The hijacker ‘adopts’ the identity of the taxable person, usually (but not always) without that taxable person’s knowledge, using its VRN when acquiring goods from EU Member States or from other UK taxable persons and then becomes a missing trader. The hijacker does not complete or submit a VAT return and deliberately does not pay the VAT when it becomes properly due.
You should exercise caution when determining whether a VRN was hijacked because it might be found that the hijacked trader actually allowed the hijacker to use its VAT number, or at least knew that the hijacker was using its VRN but did nothing to stop it. In such cases you should weigh up the evidence as to which entity should be assessed for the VAT due. Further guidance can be sought from the VAT Fraud Team.
As the hijacker will not have declared its VAT liabilities and, just as important, paid its net VAT liability, the guidance set out in VATF53100 should be read.
Getting beyond the hijacker
It is not normally possible to get beyond the hijacker, but reasonable efforts should be made to do so.In such instances you should read the guidance contained in MTOG5000 of the Missing Trader Intra-Community Fraud Specialist Investigations Operational Guidance(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)