Exclusive – Police get tough on VAT

Customs & Excise could face a judicial review after claims by more than 30 police forces that they should be allowed to recover over #10m in VAT paid on vehicles in the mid-1990s.

The issue came to a head this week at a meeting between senior Customs officials and representatives of the authorities, led by tax consultancy Williams Jeffery Barber. Customs stood its ground.

‘Our argument is correct,’ said a Customs spokesperson. ‘The position is that Williams Jeffery Barber are going back to their clients to see if they want to take it to judicial review. We are upholding the law. The (police) solicitors are interpreting it in a different way.’

WJB declined to reveal precise technical details of the claim, which relates to the years 1992 and 1995 when police authorities were not able to claim VAT back for vehicles.

But director Duncan Groves said: ‘Following that meeting, we maintain the veracity of the legal basis of our position. We are presently considering our clients’ options.

‘Due to the nature of this issue an appeal to a VAT tribunal is not possible and therefore any legal challenge would need to be by judicial review.’

Customs said the argument related to the VAT (Input Tax) Order 1992 which outlined the areas of VAT blocked from recovery attempts. It covers cars bought by local authorities.

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