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Totel v HMRC

In Totel v HMRC [2016] EWCA Civ 1310 (20 December 2016) the Court of Appeal found that the UK VAT prepayment rules did not infringe the EU principle of equivalence.

Totel was liable to pay nearly £1.5m of VAT which HMRC considered it had wrongly treated as input tax in its VAT returns and it had appealed against HMRC’s determination. Totel contended that the prepayment rule (under which it had to pay the contested VAT before appealing) infringed the EU equivalence principle as described by Lord Hope in Test Claimants in the FII Group Litigation v HMRC [2012] 2 AC 337: ‘The principle of equivalence requires that the rules regulating the right to recover taxes levied in breach of EU law must be no less favourable than those governing similar domestic actions.’

The Court of Appeal first observed that given the lack of harmonisation at Union...

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