VAT carousel fraud in the UK has doubled in the past three months, but this came as no surprise to resellers.
According to figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK government has missed out on reclaiming VAT from an estimated £10bn worth of fraudulent exports in the second quarter of 2006, compared with £6.5bn in Q1. Last year the Q2 figure stood at £2.3bn.
The IT industry is particularly susceptible to VAT fraudsters. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has tried to implement a raft of unpopular anti-fraud measures. The most recent – Reverse Charge – places the responsibility for VAT with the purchaser in the chain. It is still awaiting final European Commission approval.
Les Billing, managing director of distributor Microtronica, said: “I’m not surprised the figure [for VAT carousel fraud] has increased. Fraud makes business difficult for everybody, and fraudulent activity is often passed off as grey market.
“The easiest way to tackle it is to make everybody in the chain pay VAT and then claim it back. Most firms don’t have the time to go around auditing all of their suppliers.”
One company that asked to remain anonymous said: “There is a lot of grey product around, so I’m not surprised that the figures have increased.”
Although the ONS figures did not reveal the amount lost to fraudsters this year, HMRC confirmed that official estimates for 2005/06 will be published with the pre-Budget report later this year. In 2004/05, HMRC revealed that fraud cost the UK economy between £1.1bn and £1.9bn.
An HMRC representative told CRN: “It is not possible to make assumptions about losses incurred by the Exchequer because HMRC’s strategy to tackle this fraud through a combination of legislation, litigation and operational initiatives is delivering results.”
>> Further reading:
Automation firms UiPath and Automation Anywhere close out their funding rounds with $265m and $300m respectively
View photos of last night's awards ceremony in London
View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
After a glittering awards evening in Battersea celebrating 25 years of the Awards, we are pleased to share the list of winners and judges' commended winners