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HMRC internal manual

VAT Small and Medium Enterprises Assurance Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Post Audit Action: communication of decisions to traders: questions of general nature

Answers to general questions should be expressed as opinions, so that they cannot be confused with decisions, and lead to wasted time and difficulties, if appeals are lodged. In giving such an opinion, whether orally or in writing, the officer should make it clear that it is not a decision.

Caution is always to be exercised when giving information on liability matters, as there may be considerations of which local staff are unaware. In the absence of a clear precedent or specific guidance the appropriate UoE or VAT Policy Team should be consulted. .

In all cases, the ruling should be confirmed to the trader in writing.

In liability cases the final letter containing the “appealable” decision should be based on an actual supply, or an actual importation, and should incorporate a reference to any relevant part of the law. If details of such a supply, or importation are not already available, the letter upholding the department’s decision should contain advice that it is couched in general terms only. A request should be made that, if the trader wishes to appeal, details of an actual supply or importation on which an “appealable decision” can be given should be provided.

A note should be made on EF of any rulings given to a trader during or after any inquiry, (in EF Summary and Audit screens). A copy of the decision letter, suitably described should be captured to EF and a note made on the EF Summary and Audit screens, indicating the date of the letter as a cross-reference.