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Highlights from the broader tax news for the week ending 10 January 2024, including: using agent reference numbers; submitting bank and building society returns; and VAT on electric vehicle recharging.

Use of the agent reference number in HMRC processes

Alongside the introduction of the agent services account (ASA), HMRC introduced a unique identifier for each legal entity registered as an agent. This unique identifier is known as an ‘agent reference number’ (ARN).

Until now, ARNs have mainly been used by HMRC as an internal identifier, with some limited exceptions where they have been used to verify agent identity. Following a review, the ARN will now be used more frequently when agents contact or transact with HMRC.

Firms may need to ensure their staff are aware of the firm’s ARN. The number can be found on the ASA homepage within the blue ‘Welcome’ box and is in the format of four letters, followed by seven numbers.

From 26 February 2024, where the payment is to go to a nominee, ARNs will be mandated on all P87 employment expenses and marriage allowance transfer claim forms submitted to HMRC.

Change to process for bank and building society interest returns

UK banks and building societies are required to submit information to HMRC about interest paid or credited for the year. That information must be submitted in one of the ways suggested in the guidance published by HMRC. HMRC has updated its guidance to make it clear that it will no longer accept continuous files when a return is submitted using an electronic flat text file (EFTF).

VAT on electric vehicle charging 

As previously clarified by Revenue and Customs Brief 7 (2021), HMRC has now explicitly stated in VAT Notice 701/19 that the charging of electric vehicles using public charging points is always standard-rated for VAT purposes, regardless of the quantity of electricity supplied.

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