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AIBU to think it's beyond cheeky to charge for wrong advice?

18 replies

thatdamnwoman · 18/11/2019 19:37

There have been recent changes to rates of VAT in the sector I work in, and reading the legislation and the information sent by HMRC it's not at all clear how much we need to be charging in certain circumstances. I talked it through with my accountant who agreed that the info was ambiguous and referred me to a VAT specialist she has used.

I called him and he said I wasn't the first person to raise the issue with him and this was what I should do. The call took less that 15 minutes and when I asked him to invoice me he said there'd be no charge. However, after that conversation I went back to the legislation and realised that he didn't appear to be aware of a couple of clauses that contradicted the advice he'd given. So I phoned him again and pointed this out, then sent him an email with the relevant lines highlighted.

He called back and said I was right: the info I'd highlighted did appear to contradict what he'd said. He said he was due to go to a couple of meetings with HMRC in London this week and he would raise it directly with them. I said thanks, it would be great to know their response. He replied that now he was acting on my behalf, he would have to bill me for the information – and he's £220 an hour.

Is it really cheeky to hand out bad information for free and then charge £220 ph when the recipient points out the mistakes?

OP posts:
helpfulperson · 18/11/2019 19:48

But surely if he is going to raise it with HMRC that suggests that he has official sources for the advice he gave you as well as the official source you have which contradicts it. The advice he gave you wasn't wrong per say. It isn't an uncommon situation given the amount of advice the Gov puts out on topics.

Stegosaurus1990 · 18/11/2019 19:50

So has he now advised you properly?

Booboostwo · 18/11/2019 19:51

What a CF! You should be charging him!

Can’t you ask HMRC directly?

Palavah · 18/11/2019 19:52

Doesn't he have to have your signed authority to act on your behalf? If you haven't given that what is he going to charge you for?

thatdamnwoman · 18/11/2019 20:07

The advice he originally gave me could have ended up with me being held accountable for thousands in VAT and presumably also thousands in legal / professional fees if I had to challenge HMRC.

I've already contacted HMRC and had a 'hmmmmm, we'll need to get back to you' response. I run a very small business and I can't afford to make a mistake.

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BananaPeach · 18/11/2019 20:11

Surely your accountant should be dealing with this without another person? That’s what you pay them for

thatdamnwoman · 18/11/2019 20:16

Palavah, yes, I've made it clear that I haven't instructed him. I'm not sure, though, whether he'll pass on the information he gleans from HMRC. He may, I suppose, insist I pay him for it – and I suppose if I do I can then hold him accountable if it's wrong. Just makes me wonder whether he's charged other people for the wrong information he gave me.

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thatdamnwoman · 18/11/2019 20:33

My accountant isn't an expert on the minutaie of newly introduced and apparently contradictory and ambiguous legislation. She's taken the issue up with her professional association but they've confirmed that they are awaiting clarification – presumably from HMRC. She referred me to this guy because he is supposed to be a real expert. I spoke directly to him because I have a clearer idea of the job I'm quoting for and the potential ambiguities than she does.

My sector has had two different rates of VAT for some years but now it's become much more complicated.

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coldfeetallthetime · 18/11/2019 20:39

I’d be really interested to hear more about the sector you work in and these different VAT rates if you’re able to share more info?

Oblomov19 · 18/11/2019 20:46

Can you explain what your query is exactly?

The 2 rates of VAT?

Lougle · 18/11/2019 20:53

I think an example might be 'sanitary protection products' have 5% VAT, but 'incontinence products' are zero rated. Some pads could be seen to be appropriate for both uses.

ymf117 · 18/11/2019 20:55

Definitely beyond cheeky. Does he work for a company? I'd be having words.

egontoste · 18/11/2019 21:15

My accountant isn't an expert on the minutiae of newly introduced and apparently contradictory and ambiguous legislation

In my professional experience, neither is HMRC.

egontoste · 18/11/2019 21:18

And if you take any more advice from this 'expert' person, get that advice in writing. And pay for it.
That way, you can sue him to kingdom come when if it turns out he was wrong.

blacksax · 18/11/2019 21:21

If it is anything like TOMS you have my sympathies OP Shock

topcat2014 · 18/11/2019 21:23

OP what is the issue? Lots of vat specialists on MN..

topcat2014 · 18/11/2019 22:11

Part of being a professional accountant is recognising areas that are not your expertise and referring them onwards rather than blundering in the dark

thatdamnwoman · 18/11/2019 22:51

It's the renewable energy sector. We're already used to applying 0%, 5% and 20% VAT according to circumstances. Now there's new legislation including something called the 60% rule – except that no one seems able to say with certainty what it covers and how it is applied. It's one way of killing off small businesses, I suppose.

OP posts:
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