HC Deb 19 November 2003 vol 413 cc1101-2W
Norman Lamb

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the value of VAT carousel fraud was in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement; [139769]

(2) if he will make a statement on the progress of efforts to tackle VAT carousel fraud; [139770]

(3) how many prosecutions there were in respect of VAT carousel fraud (a) in 2000, (b) in 2001, (c) in 2002 and (d) since 9 April; [139771]

(4) how much money has been withheld in VAT repayments to companies trading in (a) mobile telephones and (b) computer chips in each of the last three years; how much was subsequently paid on to these companies; and if he will make a statement. [139773]

John Healey

There are no separate estimates for tax losses from the specific carousel variant of VAT Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) fraud. However, estimates of revenue loss from all forms of MTIC fraud, which includes carousel fraud, for 1999–2000,2000–01 and 2001–02 were published in "Measuring Indirect Tax Losses" at the time of the pre-Budget report in November 2002, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. There are no estimates for earlier years.

Details of Customs strategy and progress in tackling VAT MTIC fraud were set out in "Tackling Indirect Tax Fraud" (November 2001), "Protecting Indirect Tax Revenues" (November 2002), and Customs' Spring Report (May 2003), copies of which are also available in the Library of the House.

Prosecution figures for VAT MTIC fraud for 2001–02 were published in Customs' Annual Report and Accounts 2001–02 in December 2002 (CM 5671). Figures for earlier years are not available.

Customs does not maintain information in the format requested and it could be produced only at disproportionate cost. The levels of VAT repayments being withheld by Customs in any given sector at any given time vary on a daily basis, and repayments may be made which are subsequently established to be wrongly paid, resulting in an assessment for VAT at a later date.

Estimates of tax losses and the number of prosecutions for 2002–03, and an update on progress in tackling the fraud, will be published later this year.

Norman Lamb

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has made to the European Union in respect of its rules on cross-border trade and VAT carousel fraud; and if he will make a statement. [139772]

John Healey

The UK Government has regular dialogue with the European Commission and other member states of the EU about the most effective way to counter carousel VAT fraud, including simplifying and modernising the current rules on cross-border trade and strengthening the arrangements for administrative co-operation and information exchange between member states' tax administrations. The UK has supported initiatives in this area such as the proposal for a new VAT Administrative Co-operation Regulation, which will come into force on 1 January 2004.

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