In Mr XYZ v HMRC [2016] TC05157 the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) rejected the taxpayer’s claim for a repayment as returns were filed more than four years after a VAT assessment.

  • The taxpayer is a self-employed barrister who failed to submit four VAT returns in 2009 and early 2010 due to illness.
  • HMRC raised an assessment for the VAT for these periods which was paid by the taxpayer
  • The taxpayer finally filed the returns in July 2014.  These showed a total overpayment from the assessment of £43,000.
  • The taxpayer requested that the overpayment be applied to pay VAT in later periods with any surplus repaid to him.
  • HMRC refused on the grounds that s80(4) VATA 1994 imposes a strict four year deadline for seeking repayment and the claim was therefore out of time.

The FTT found that:

  • There was no statutory basis for extending the deadline.
  • The strict application of the four-year time limit did not contravene the taxpayer’s human rights
  • There was no basis to override the time limit due to exceptional circumstances:  The overpayment itself was not a special circumstance and although the taxpayer had obviously been ill it was clear that he continued to be aware of his tax obligations and had ample opportunity to file his returns.

Although they expressed sympathy for the taxpayer’s personal and health difficulties the FTT struck out the appeal on the grounds it had no reasonable prospect of succeeding.


It’s not unusual for assessments to be wide of the mark given the lack of information HMRC has on hand when making them.  This case illustrates how important it is to file returns promptly after receiving an assessment to ensure you don’t end up out of pocket.


Our subscriber guide Penalties (VAT) contains more details about the consequences of late filing.

Case reference: Mr XYZ v HMRC [2016] TC05157