UK VAT legislation and regulations are notoriously complex, and few businesses have in-house VAT specialists. It’s no surprise that HMRC are raising an increasing number of VAT assessments and penalties every year.


Like a bad smell, this unique and quirky tax crops up everywhere in your business’ internal and external supply chain. On top of that, it can be fiendishly complicated and making sense of it requires a healthy dose of expertise.

We love the above statement. That’s because it not only sums up the problems your business may face, but it also sums up the world of complex tax challenges we relish getting stuck into.


Our core business focuses on specialist VAT compliance and VAT  consultancy. We’ll work with you closely to form a real understanding of your business, looking into the detail behind any transaction and adding significant value throughout the various phases of a project.

VAT gets everywhere and can have major implications for your business. It gets even more complicated if you’re a charity or not-for-profit. Partial exemption rules make things even more complicated. And they’re subject to change.

We’ve helped with everything from:

  • Non-VAT registered holding companies that are carrying on taxable activities.
  • Capital goods scheme obligations on real estate portfolios.
  • VAT arrangements for company car portfolios and the link to HP, leasing and business vs personal use.
  • Correcting where companies haven’t made use of lowest rate of VAT available (refund claimed).
  • Helped where businesses have simply got it wrong. Whether that’s claiming VAT on business entertainment using the wrong VAT rate on multiple transactions or input tax over claims in relation to for example leased cars.

We can make sure you don’t get caught out with any nasty VAT surprises.

When it comes to VAT you need to remember that it’s a transactional tax. VAT errors occur in almost every business. Often these are not major errors but the danger with VAT is it can cause ongoing issues. An error can be repeated and compounded with every transaction your business carries out.

Getting it wrong can make you vulnerable to HMRC penalties.

HMRC expects businesses to pay due care and attention to the VAT rules. Whilst HMRC says it doesn’t view penalties as an additional revenue stream, that’s not always reflected in the behaviour of frontline staff.

Penalties for VAT errors are based on the conduct that led to the error occurring. If a business has made an error but has taken ‘reasonable care’, no penalty will be due.

The best way to demonstrate that you’ve taken reasonable care is to have a review. That’s where our VAT MOT can really help your business.

A great place to start is with our VAT MOT.

Our VAT MOT is very like the MOT you have on your car. It’s a VAT health check for your business. We’ll make sure you’re operating within the VAT rules and your business is roadworthy. It’ll help you stand up to any HMRC scrutiny and avoid potential penalties and fines.

We’ll look out for the primary VAT issues that typically face businesses trading domestically and internationally. Our review will highlight any risk areas and outline recommendations for anything that needs further exploration or fixing.

You’ll be firmly in the driving seat when it comes to deciding which areas merit further work or review by our team. Along with identifying any areas of concern our VAT MOT can offer reassurance. Giving you that peace of mind that ‘reasonable care’ has been taken. As required by HMRC.


Contact Damian Shirley our VAT Partner, and we’ll send you a link so the person who prepares your VAT return can fill in an online questionnaire, which is the first phase of the VAT MOT process. Investing 30 minutes of your  time could save a lot of HMRC hassle longer term.

Once we have your details  we’ll arrange a follow up call with our VAT experts who’ll take you through the VAT MOT process.

We’ll provide a risk matrix and recommend next steps.

We’ll red flag any areas of non-compliance that can be addressed prior to an HMRC visit. Don’t forget by going through our VAT MOT you’ll be able to demonstrate you’ve taken reasonable care and we’ll provide a useful report for you to keep on file. A useful mitigating factor should HMRC ever identify areas of concern and seek to apply a penalty.

Specialist Compliance and Consultancy

With over a century’s worth of VAT experience between them our team can help you avoid potential penalties and identify opportunities to mitigate VAT.

We offer assistance and advice on a range of VAT issues. They can deal with routine VAT questions, support you during a VAT inspection by HMRC or deal with complex VAT issues relating to challenging HMRC decisions.

We aim to provide bespoke commercial  VAT advice, seeking to identify VAT issues before they arise and presenting VAT saving opportunities applicable to the particular circumstances.

  • VAT Advisory: We’ll work with you to mitigate the VAT cost and administrative burden associated with material capital transactions. This includes your estate strategy, your Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) activity, property transactions and your outsourcing plans.
  • VAT Compliance Services: From basic support and checking of pre-prepared returns, right through to the full outsourcing of your VAT compliance function – working with our team will give you complete peace of mind.
  • Senior Accounting Officer (SAO) regime: We’ll help you with an end-to-end independent review of your internal processes for Senior Accounting Officer (SAO) compliance purposes. We’ll talk you through any risks, and together we’ll overcome the unique challenges this regime can present.

Insights, technology and training

You’ve only got to look at the uncertainty post Brexit, or the Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime, to understand the need for businesses to be kept up to speed with relevant, timely, expert insight.

We’ll provide you with consistent VAT advice and updates that are tailored to your business. And we’ll follow up with regular catch-up meetings and calls to make sure you’re getting the most out of our relationship.

How about a bespoke training programme so we can knowledge share with your team? Or we could second a specialist VAT advisor if you need any short-term support and on-site guidance? They’re great ways to add value and upskill your team at the same time.

In addition to MTD, our tax and IT geeks have joined forces to offer market leading products and support to future proof your VAT function. Our solutions give you centralised visibility over global indirect tax obligations, trend analysis, error detection, tailored checks and analytics, and end-to-end process simplification.

VAT Litigation and Dispute Resolution

If you’re facing a dispute with HMRC regarding your VAT accounting position, there’s no need to fret.

Our VAT team  have a strong, long-standing relationship with HMRC. And we’ve got a huge amount of experience in resolving VAT  disputes in a collaborative, cost-efficient manner – giving you the peace of mind to stay focused on your business and its growth.


Our VAT team have worked with businesses and not-for-profits from across a wide range of sectors. From helping charities mitigate HMRC’s assessment to representing clients at all levels up to and including the European Court of Justice. They’re sure to be able to help you when it comes to VAT.

They may be VAT geeks but they’re also very friendly. We’re always open to a coffee or a drink of your choice and a chat. We’re happy to meet online, at your business or at one of our super cool offices at East Midlands Airport, Birmingham or London.

Damian Shirley

VAT Partner

If you need any advice, we’d love to chat so feel free to get in touch.


Contact Form

    Count me in. I'd love to hear from Cooper Parry about relevant updates and insights.


    So what can be termed a ‘reasonable excuse’ and mean you could escape a penalty?


    Check out the latest edition of Value Added News – our business update on all things VAT.


    Is your business ready for the plastic packaging which comes into force April 2022.