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Here’s a rare thing – a straightforward VAT rule!

‘No invoice, no VAT claim’ is the consistent line coming out of tribunal so it really is worth checking your files.

In theory HMRC can accept alternative evidence if it’s “almost impossible”, or “excessively difficult” to obtain a valid VAT invoice from the supplier but it seems this is a very high bar indeed.  The Upper Tribunal has just decided against James Edwin Boyce [2017] UKUT 0177 (TCC) which will cancel his VAT claims of just over £100,000!!

Mr Boyce arranged for cars to be bought from franchised dealers and then exported them to Singapore, undercutting dealers based out there.  As manufacturers wouldn’t be happy with this, the only way Mr Boyce could operate was to have cars bought in the names of unconnected people.  Of course this meant the invoices weren’t addressed to him.  HMRC disallowed his VAT claims and Mr Boyce appealed claiming that be couldn’t obtain corrected invoices from the dealers and therefore passed the “almost impossible” test .

Although successful at the 1st Tier, the Upper Tribunal have upheld HMRC’s decision to cancel the VAT claims leaving Mr Boyce £100k worse off.  So this and other cases, including ZipVit, lead to one clear rule – you’ve just got to have a proper VAT invoice before you claim back any VAT.