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VAT: Pre-registration claims
Revenue & Customs Brief 01/12 VAT: Pre-registration claims concerning VAT charged to a previous registration of the same legal entity at deregistration applies from the date of issue.

It is a short note by HMRC and removes a concession HMRC previously operated. It highlights that HMRC now feels that it falls within its discretion to allow alternative evidence as set out in regulation 29(2) of the VAT Regulations 1995 to be applied to claims under regulation 111 of the VAT Regulations 1995.
Tax free shopping
HMRC has updated VAT Notice 704/1 Tax free shopping in the UK and re-written sections to improve readability.
Burial, cremation and the commemoration of the dead
HMRC has updated VAT Notice 701/32 Burial, cremation and the commemoration of the dead and re-written sections to improve readability.
Caravan pitches
HMRC has proposed changing the legal definition of ‘seasonal pitch’ defined in VATA 1994 Schedule 9 Group 1 Note 14 and 14a. This follows the decision taken by the removal of certain extra statutory concessions. Without the extra statutory concession ‘seasonal pitches’ are not included within the land exemption and are therefore a standard rated supply. The proposal is to extend the definition with the land exemption to include this, thus making it an exempt supply without the need for the extra statutory concession.The proposed change will only include ‘seasonal pitches’ used as the occupants’ principal private residence. ‘Seasonal pitches’ used as whole or part of a holiday site will remain a standard rated supply. The effective date of this proposed change is from 1 March 2012.

Confidentiality in VAT matters (tax advisers) – statement of practice
HMRC has removed VAT Notice 700/47 Confidentiality in VAT matters (tax advisers) – statement of practice, with the content now included in other guidance.
French VAT
At the end of January 2012, the French government announced an increase in the standard rate of VAT, from 19.6% to 21.2%, effective from 1 October 2012. This follows the increase to the reduced rate of VAT at the beginning of 2012 from 5.5% to 7%.
A 0.1% levy on financial transactions on shares has also been introduced, effective from August 2012.
Czech Republic
Due to improved GDP figures the Czech Republic government will not go ahead of the proposed merger of the standard and the reduced rates of VAT. It had previously been proposed that the standard rate of VAT (20%) and the reduced VAT rate (14% since 1 January 2012, previously 10%) be merged as a unified single VAT rate of 19%. This followed the increase of VAT rates across the EU in an effort to counter worsening economic conditions.  However, as the GPD showed a positive movement rather than indicating negative growth, the plan has been scrapped.