VAT services for professionals

Our VAT specialists offer a range of services for accountants, lawyers, insolvency practitioners and other professionals



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Do you need help with a complex VAT matter?

Our experienced VAT specialists can work with you to resolve your clients’ VAT issues.


Is your client under investigation or in a dispute with HMRC?

Don’t panic! Our team regularly deal with VAT investigations and disputes and can guide you and your client through the process to make it as stress-free as possible.

Would your client benefit from a VAT Health Check?

Our experienced VAT experts can conduct a mock inspection to review your client’s ‘VAT health’ and identify areas where they can improve their VAT position.

Does your client need VAT advice on a property transaction?

If you or your client get the VAT treatment wrong it could be extremely costly, with unexpected bills and potentially substantial penalties.

Our VAT services

VAT Investigations & Disputes

When HMRC launch an investigation, our VAT experts can guide your client through the options that are available and make the process as stress-free as possible.

With our advice, there may be the chance to reduce any VAT liabilities (we recently resolved a £4m VAT assessment, down to zero), penalties due or to structure a more favourable payment plan if required.

We can also assist in resolving queries or disagreements between suppliers and customers and HMRC.

VAT Health Check

Is your client ready for a VAT inspection from HMRC?  Are their systems and processes compliant?  Our experienced VAT consultant Tony Nickson can carry out a “mock inspection” to critically review how your client deals with VAT, highlighting areas of concern and identifying opportunities to improve your client’s VAT position.

VAT on property & Options To Tax

If your client’s VAT treatment is wrong on a property transaction it could be extremely costly, with unexpected bills and potentially substantial penalties.

Consider VAT at an early stage and identify potential VAT savings.

Partial Exemption methods & calculation

This can be complicated, but we can help set these systems up and provide advice on special methods for your client if required.

VAT planning

We can help you to enhance the quality and breadth of the service you offer clients.

This can lead to VAT savings in the short/medium term.

Making Tax Digital

We can set clients up for making tax digital and provide any software assistance required (i.e. we can submit returns if required on behalf of the company).

For more information please visit our MTD for VAT article.

Benefit from our VAT knowledge

High-level VAT knowledge and expertise

Over 20 years of experience working at HMRC

Cost-effective VAT support when you need it

Our VAT expertise

Our highly experienced VAT team can help reduce the VAT risks to your client’s business.

One-off transactions, like purchasing a property, can be fraught with VAT dangers and the likely costs/penalties should a transaction be incorrectly accounted for can be very costly. Our VAT experts can provide advice and help structure the purchase/sale prior to the transaction to avoid costly mistakes. 

VAT is likely to affect the operation of your client’s day-to-day business. We can help to ensure that your client’s business is compliant with the ever-changing VAT regulations.

VAT on services is a complicated area. VAT rates may or may not apply depending on who is providing or buying the services, where they are provided and the precise nature of the services provided. We can help clarify how the complex VAT rules apply to your client’s circumstances.

We understand that dealing with HMRC can be time-consuming and stressful. Our VAT team has over 20 years of experience working at HMRC and is well placed to provide assistance with HMRC investigations and disputes.

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What do my clients need to look out for?

VAT Tribunals

VAT tribunals are constantly updating case law which means that what was standard practice for years, may have been amended. These cases are not always publicised and companies can be caught out – an example is the cancelling of HMRC’s VAT concession on disbursements in the legal sector.

Educational charities

We have provided advice to educational charities to improve VAT recovery.  In one case, on establishing a new VAT registration, the charity was able to recover £60,000 of input tax that would have been lost.

Agency staff

This can be costly if the liability for VAT is charged incorrectly. We have advised numerous exempt businesses on how to use the nursing VAT exemption to minimise costs and not fall foul of any umbrella companies which may have to charge VAT on their agency staff.

Care home construction costs

Hawsons has worked with numerous healthcare businesses to minimise the costs of building relevant residential purpose buildings. These include the construction of care homes providing residential accommodation for children, personal care for people due to old age or disablement, hospices, etc. These works are high value and could be costly if a business does not plan correctly for VAT. Savings in the £100,000s have been made by businesses we have advised, which have been plowed back into the business.

VAT on property

This is considered one of the most complex areas of VAT and can become very expensive if treated incorrectly for VAT. We always stress to businesses that advice needs to be sought before the beginning of a project, as the costs to unravel VAT problems afterwards can be in the millions and may include penalties and interest.  We can advise on the correct VAT structure to limit costs and increase VAT recovery.

On numerous occasions, we have offered advice on the Option to Tax (OTT). By notifying HMRC at the correct time, or by belatedly notifying an option for the business, we have saved businesses penalties/interest and allowed input tax recovery.  Once again, it is best to get the OTT treatment correct at the start of a project rather than being behind the curve.


Imports/exports post Brexit

Since Brexit, we have encouraged businesses to use Postponed Import VAT Accounting (PIVA). This allows businesses to import goods without paying VAT on entry to the UK, by accounting for VAT on the next VAT return. This means enhanced cash flow for businesses we have advised.

Most exports from the UK are now zero-rated for VAT but there may be a requirement to register for VAT in the receiving country.

Case studies

VAT Consultant Tony Nickson successfully settles £4m VAT case

We successfully reduced the client’s VAT liability from over £4M to zero

Registering a company for VAT. It's easy isn't it?

We have recently had to register a company for VAT after their administration had begun. This was due to the fact they had assumed that their supplies where exempt from VAT, whereas they should have been standard rated. We also calculated the VAT owing to HMRC, which allowed the administration to be completed in a timely manner. In this case, the Effective Date of Registration for VAT was not clear and went back many years, which meant our experience was needed to assess the records and come up with a date that HMRC was comfortable with.

VAT issues from international trading

A company based in Germany had previously received various VAT surcharge penalties (over £51,000), due to the company’s failure to make payments on account to HMRC at the correct time.  We used our extensive knowledge of HMRC’s penalty regime to appeal the surcharges and HMRC agreed to cancel them, due to our insistence that the company had not received any correspondence from HMRC that payments on account needed to be made.


Registering a company for VAT on new MTD system

We, on behalf of the company, tried to register them for VAT using the new MTD system. Unfortunately, due to a glitch in their system, HMRC was not unable to register the company for VAT using MTD. This led to much stress for the company which needed to charge VAT on its supplies. We contacted HMRC (over a period of 18 months), on at least 40 occasions and were passed from pillar to post, with HMRC unable to resolve our issue. Eventually, we were able to get the company VAT registered (not for MTD) and had to submit manual spreadsheets for their returns. We also complained about the poor service and the company was compensated with thousands of pounds for their trouble. This shows we look after our clients and resolve their issues even when HMRC are being intransigent.


How can I claim Bad Debt Relief (BDR) for my client?

If your customer has not paid for a supply of goods or services your client may be able to claim BDR. Hawsons can help you meet the conditions for claiming BDR.

Various records and evidence must be kept (for four years from the date of claim), in particular, to identify:

  • The time and nature of the supply, the purchaser, and the consideration
  • The amount of VAT chargeable on the supply
  • The accounting period when this VAT was accounted for and paid to HMRC
  • Any payment received for the supply
  • Entries in the refund for bad debts account
  • The accounting period in which the claim is made.
What does Making Tax Digital for VAT mean for my client's business?

All VAT-registered businesses are now required to keep digital records and need to use MTD-compatible software to submit their VAT returns.

Please see more details here:



How will the new VAT penalties, that are to be introduced on 1 Jan 2023, work in practice?

Late submission penalties will be based on a points system, meaning that those who are mistakenly late with a return/payment will not be hit as severely as serial offenders.

How does an Option to Tax (OTT) affect my client's commercial property?

Commercial property is usually exempt from VAT.  It may be tax efficient for a company to opt to tax a commercial property. The issue is complicated so please contact Hawsons for advice.

What is postponed VAT accounting?

This means that a business accounts for import VAT on their VAT returns, instead of paying at Customs, and is a cashflow benefit to most businesses as input VAT can be claimed on the same return.

Contact our experts for a free initial meeting

Complete our form for a free initial meeting

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Stephen Charles

Tax Partner

Craig Walker

Tax Director

Aaron Hemmington

Tax Partner

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