If you are operating a VAT registered business it is one of life's certainties that
one day you will receive a HMRC visit. Their timing can be unpredictable and they
may or may not have a reason for a visit. It could be that you have a poor track
record or your business is nearly all cash. It could be that your VAT returns are
irregular or have suddenly changed significantly.
Don’t worry too much about this, just make sure you keep good records and everything
will be ok. HMRC seem to do more unannounced visits these days which I think is rather
rude. Lack of preparation can be the cause of a daunting experience, especially if
you are not sure of your facts. If they should do this tell them to come back with
an appointment. Having an accountant there at your appointment could simplify things
by answering the questions on your behalf.
I think what inspectors try to do is not give people chance to fake records before
a visit, but it is your right to refuse to speak to them if you so wish. Since VAT
rules are very complex there is nearly always something that they can find, especially
if your business has lots of transactions. So don't be shocked if they do find something.
If they do happen to find anything it is worth going through this with your accountant
to make sure the inspectors are not trying it on. Some inspectors can be very enthusiastic.
2) How to choose and protect a Business/Trading Name.
If you are trading as a sole trader or partnership you can trade under another name
other than your own but the trading name must follow certain rules. The trading name
must not include public limited company, Limited company and limited liability partnership.
The Trading name must not be offensive or contain prescribed or sensitive words and
expressions, unless you have obtained permission.
For details and rules for naming your limited company or limited liability partnership
(LLP) contact Companies House.
It is important that anyone else is not using your proposed trading name. You should
check that is not being used by another business in your area. If it is, you should
choose an alternative. Check local phone directories, business directories and the
internet. Make sure that your proposed name, or something similar hasn't been registered
by a company (check with companies house). Make sure that the name isn't too similar
to a registered trade mark.
If your trading name is relative to the goods and/or services you provide, you may
be able to take legal action against anyone using it in a similar capacity. But,
you get more legal protection if you register it as a trade mark.
Using the same same or similar name as your website name is a common practice. To
do this, first you have to check to see if that is available. Having a trade mark
does not give you a right to the same domain name. The domain name may already be
in use, but you may take legal action if a) the domain name is being used to pass
off their goods and services as yours or b) your domain name has been bought just
so they can sell it back to you.