V5.136B Time limit for making a VAT assessment—the time limits in detail
VAT assessment—'evidence of the facts'
In most cases, an assessment may not be made more than one or two years (depending on the circumstances) after evidence of facts sufficient in the opinion of HMRC to justify the making of the assessment comes to their knowledge1. This statement invites a number of conclusions.
• HMRC must have evidence which, in its opinion, justifies the making of an assessment. The relevant evidence is 'evidence of facts' which has come to HMRC's knowledge and is sufficient in its opinion to justify making the particular assessment concerned for the particular amount in question. Thus, the relevant opinion is whether HMRC has sufficient evidence, not whether it has sufficient facts2.
In Weight Watchers3, HMRC had sufficient evidence to make an estimated assessment, but failed to do so within one year of the time it came into possession of such evidence. Instead, it waited until the appellant provided precise figures, and assessed within the (then) three-year limit prescribed by VATA 1994, s 77(1)(a). The appellant claimed that the assessment was out of time. However the tribunal held that the fact that HMRC could have raised an estimated assessment did not alter the fact that the assessment which was actually made was based on information provided less than one year before the date of the assessment, and was therefore in time. Similarly in ERF4, the (Upper) Tribunal held that 'HMRC, and Mr Harold [HMRC officer],
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