Written by: A St John Price
At 40 chapters and over 600 pages this is the largest of the annuals but it is probably the most essential almost as every transaction has a VAT perspective. The book is written for the person (not necessarily an accountant), who needs a sound understanding of VAT, but otherwise has a business they want to get on with. I love the way it is arranged in three sections to direct you what to read first:
What you must know. What you might need to know. Special situations. This is just one illustration of the practical nature of this book; another is the large number of examples taken from real cases St. John Price has dealt with over his 30 plus years working as expert VAT adviser. He tells you what went wrong, why it occurred and how, if you heed his words, the same won't happen to you or your clients.
Even with the most complex topics St. John Price makes you feel he is there at your elbow guiding you through. For example when tackling international services (chapter 23), he says: "If you find this chapter heavy going, take heart! Everyone finds these rules difficult at first. The best way to learn them is to understand the basic idea; then leave the detail until you have a real situation to which to apply the rules". Sound advice from one who knows.
One of the problems with tax law is that it is constantly changing, but with VAT more than other taxes the ordinary businessman is expected to rely on the HMRC VAT leaflets and briefings for guidance. Unfortunately the HMRC VAT materials are not always complete, up to date or easy to find, which makes this book ever more necessary. To help the practitioner keep on top of the constantly changing official guidance the author has included a chapter; "How do I keep up to date with changes in VAT?". This takes the reader step by step through the morass of twists, turns and dead-ends which is the HMRC VAT website.
I have used earlier editions of this text for some years, which was previously part of the Tottel Tax Essential series, and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who has a VAT problem. You know where you are with this book. You read it and understand what was previously unfathomable. For me, its indispensable.
Review by: Rebecca Cave, Taxwriter Ltd
When VAT was first introduced to the UK in 1972, it was naively described as a 'simple tax'. History over the last 35 years has shown the tax to be anything but simple, and the great quality of this book is its use of basic everyday language in a clear reader-friendly style. The book has plenty of practical examples, and each chapter is broken down into logical subtitles. The references to case law are always used to help the interpretation of a subject and the use of bullet points avoids paragraphs being too long and wordy.
Another positive that impressed me is that, as well as devoting chapters to the key topics of VAT such as registration, supply, zero-rating, etc., several chapters are devoted to specifically helping people working with VAT to find their way around the intricacies of the tax. For example, chapter 18 covers 'VAT housekeeping for finance directors' and the following chapter cleverly deals with the issue of 'How do I keep up to date on changes in VAT?'
Chapter 12 of this book is entirely devoted to multiple supplies and it is brilliantly written: there are lots of examples to help the reader get round this difficult subject. The commentary on reasonable excuse is more limited, as is the option to tax override issue. However, no book can cover every VAT topic in detail.
Overall, this book is suitable for many groups of people, including finance directors, students and accountants and lawyers who need a sound working knowledge of VAT. The author has clearly worked very hard in producing a polished end result, and deserves great credit for his efforts.
Taxation Magazine 2007
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