A key challenge for any technical book publisher is to decide whether to produce material that focuses on the strength and expertise of its author(s) or one that fully meets the anticipated needs of its readers. There is a place in the market for both types of book and I feel the main strength of this book is that it enables the eight authors to share with readers their enormous experience and pedigree gained in VAT positions over many years.
The detail provided in many chapters of the book is very impressive. VAT specialists in both the tax and legal profession can learn much from the depth and analysis provided on many topics – the focus on VAT law is very strong.
However, in concentrating on the specialist subjects of the authors, I felt there was perhaps a shortfall in information about some of the traditional VAT topics that are a perpetual problem to the general practitioner. For example, I tried to find detail about the partial exemption special method certification procedures that came into effect on 1 April 2007, and the index only directed me to four pages on partial exemption. I also tested the book on situations when the 5% rate of VAT applies in the construction industry and again struggled to find any significant detail.
The book is divided into four very clear sections: law, basic VAT issues, business and specialist topics and complex areas. I was surprised that the chapter on ‘mixed or composite supply’ was included in the basic VAT section, as recent case law decisions have certainly made this a complex area. I also felt that ‘clothing and footwear’ and ‘farming’ did not probably justify complete chapters in the specialist topics section, but I would have liked to have seen a whole chapter devoted to a business with partial exemption issues, e.g. an optician. A chapter covering the challenges facing builders in the construction industry (e.g. liability problems) may also be useful in the future.
The detail and enthusiasm of the author who wrote the chapter on ‘VAT Investigations’ is excellent and a must for any adviser representing a client in trouble with HMRC. I also enjoyed the chapter on ‘Property’, a subject that is always top of the agenda for most people working in the mysterious world of VAT.
Overall, this is a book with many strengths and qualities, not least the fact that it is written in a clear and practical manner that is easy to understand.
Reviewed by Neil Warren
Taxation Magazine, 5 June 2008
Click here for more details of this title