The First-tier Tribunal has ruled in the case of ATN Marketing Ltd v HMRC  UKFTT 30 (TC).
The company was appealing two VAT assessments and two related penalties. Ms Bartram was representing the company.
The hearing had been postponed two times, firstly because of a poor internet connection (Ms Bartram had assured the tribunal that her internet was reliable) and secondly because Ms Bartram was delayed by a late-running train (Ms Bartram had requested a face-to-face hearing). On the third occasion Ms Bartram complained of poor health and could not attend. Ms Bartram had received a number of directions from the tribunal regarding her submissions – despite appearing to rely on witnesses she had not prepared any witness statements and her skeleton argument (which was initially filled late) was not cross-referenced to supporting documentation – but she had not addressed these directions.
The tribunal considered the matter and decided that in view of the previous delays and Ms Bartram’s failure to follow the directions the hearing should proceed without her.
The first assessment addressed the issue of a double claim for input VAT and was raised on a “best judgement” basis on the evidence held by HMRC as Ms Bartram had failed to provide requested documents to HMRC, despite the issue of a Sch. 36 Notice and penalty. Miss Bartram’s skeleton argument contained assertions that the assessment was wrong but, despite the tribunal’s directions, no evidence of this had been provided.
The first assessment therefore stood. The associated penalty had been raised on a deliberate and prompted basis on the grounds that the facts were only discovered following a HMRC visit. The tribunal upheld this penalty. The tribunal commented that the mitigation applied appeared generous in the circumstances but as this had not been appealed it was left to stand.
The second assessment considered a claim for input VAT on an invoice that was paid after the six-month cut off point for input VAT recovery. It was upheld on similar grounds, there being no witness evidence, supporting documentation or credible explanation as to why the claim should be allowed. The tribunal confirmed that HMRC were correct to issue the associated penalty on a “deliberate” basis.
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