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UK guidance on VAT structures without economic basis

  • VAT
  • 18 July 2013 | Richard Asquith

UK guidance on VAT structures without economic basis

Following the European Court Ruling on the Newey Ocean Finance case, the UK VAT office, HMRC, has produced an updated briefing on the how it views the creation of artificial corporate structures primarily constructed to avoid VAT.

UK VAT authorities pursue underlying economic rational

Ocean Finance was a company providing UK VAT exempt loan arrangement services to borrowers.  This mean that the company could not recover input VAT suffered on its own costs.  To overcome this, the company set up a branch in the Channel Islands to conclude the VAT exempt contracts.  Ocean Finance then charged the branch with service charges, which are liable to VAT and so could then recover the UK input VAT.

HMRC took the view that this was an artificial construct designed to gain a tax advantage.  It took the case to the European Court of Justice, and won.


VP Global Indirect Tax
Richard Asquith
VP Global Indirect Tax Richard Asquith
Richard Asquith is VP Global Indirect Tax at Avalara, helping businesses understand their compliance obligations as they grow globally. He is part of the European leadership team which this year won International Tax Review's Tax Technology Firm of the Year. Richard qualified as an accountant with KPMG in the UK, and went on to work in Hungary, Russia and France with EY.