V5.137 Person to whom a VAT assessment must be notified
HMRC may assess the tax or other amount due from a person1. Thus, the person assessed is the person from whom the tax or other amount is due. A person for this purpose is a natural person or a body corporate. An unincorporated body of persons such as a partnership is not, for the purposes of VAT, a person. Although IA 1978 states that a person 'includes a body of persons corporate or incorporate', this is subject to the proviso 'unless the contrary intention appears2'. It has been held that such a contrary intention does apply for VAT purposes3. However, the legislation4 was subsequently amended and it has since been held that a VAT assessment can be validly made in the name of a firm5.
Notification of VAT assessment—partnerships
A partnership is no more than a group of taxable persons trading jointly and thus under a joint liability arising out of their partnership enterprise. It follows that an assessment is made on the individual partners, not the partnership6. In Yarl Wines7, it was held that a letter addressed to one of the partners constituted notification of an assessment.
Despite the Bengal Brasserie case referred above, the decided cases indicate that an assessment may be validly addressed to the partnership in the firm name in some, but not all, circumstances8. Such an assessment is invalid if a new partner has been admitted, or an existing partner has retired, during the period covered by
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