Market leading insight for tax experts
View online issue

VAT refund fraud targets businesses

printer Mail

Tax Policy Associates (TPA) has drawn attention to a form of VAT fraud which exploits companies which routinely receive VAT refunds. Fraudsters operate the scheme by submitting a paper form VAT484 (which is used to notify HMRC of changes to a VAT-registered business’s contact, bank or VAT return date details) purportedly on behalf of the company, changing the company’s bank details. HMRC process the form and issue the refund direct to the fraudulent bank account. TPA reports that this has already affected at least three FTSE 100 companies and an unknown number of smaller businesses.

Businesses which regularly make VAT refund claims could be particularly affected (for example, those making zero-rated supplies) and are urged to regularly check the bank details listed via their Government Gateway account. Larger businesses can approach their customer compliance manager to ask HMRC to automatically reject any paper tax forms (including VAT484).

TPA suggests a number of steps for HMRC to consider, to protect organisations against the scheme, including:

  • not accepting paper VAT484s from businesses which have an online account;
  • making VAT484 more secure by requiring businesses to include additional information which only they have access to;
  • requiring verification/confirmation of all requests to change bank details; and
  • reviewing procedures more generally to ascertain whether other paper forms are susceptible to exploitation by fraudsters.

Tony Cochrane at RSM has also recorded a short video on the scam.

Issue: 1662
Categories: News