VAT for professional services firms - managing your VAT compliance

01 June 2020

In principle Value Added Tax or VAT is a simple tax; in practice, however, it is a tax which is fraught with complexity. Each week there are seemingly a myriad of VAT cases reported by the Tribunals and the Courts, many of which are creating new precedents or changes to the interpretation of VAT law. Added to this complexity is the threat of penalties for errors on the VAT return. Even innocent errors may result in the addition of a penalty liability of 30% of the VAT involved. And along with the errors and the penalties comes the prospect of HMRC increasing the risk profile rating of the firm.

Against this backdrop it is therefore essential that a firm ensures it has in place appropriate and adequate training for its finance staff, not just the ones responsible for preparing or completing the VAT returns but for its AP and AR staff too. Training, together with up to date, documented, VAT accounting processes, can not only help reduce the scope for errors, they can also help mitigate any penalties if, despite best endeavours, errors nonetheless occur.

BDO has significant experience of assisting professional services firms such as yours to better manage their VAT compliance procedures so that they can meet their VAT reporting and VAT accounting obligations. As part of this assistance we have developed and run VAT training courses geared to professional services firms and the environment in which they operate. We would welcome the opportunity to share the benefit of our experience with you, by providing such training to your staff at your own offices. We believe there are a number of compelling reasons to engage BDO to help you with your training needs:

  • Our courses are tailored to the operations of professional services firms and so the material is always relevant to you
  • The training is led by senior experienced BDO staff who spend a large part of their time advising professional services firms and helping them resolve their issues
  • Our courses entitle your staff to gain structured CPD credits
  • Each course is “closed” enabling the full and open discussion of VAT issues affecting your firm or your firm’s clients
  • It provides evidence to HMRC that your firm takes its VAT compliance obligations seriously.

A typical course will last around 2.5 hours, including a Q&A session at the end. Our clients find that this is long enough to cover the material which needs to be covered and yet which, when hosted by you, is short enough so as not disrupt the day-to-day operations. The cost of the course is £2,300, plus VAT. If there are any specific issues you would like covered we will normally be able to accommodate these.

We believe our VAT courses represent excellent value for money. If you would like to discuss the arrangements for BDO to provide you with VAT training or if wish to know more about what we can do to help you manage your VAT affairs, please contact Anna Jarrold.