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Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on applications for payment of unpaid value added tax that are based on evidence collected by computers.

Both the Value Added Tax Act 1983 and the VAT General Regulations 1985 give Customs the power to issue demands for payment that are based on information held by a computer. The majority of that information is provided by the taxpayer to Customs and then input manually.The Finance Act 1985 (section 10) entitles Customs to provide evidence based on computer-held information to a court of law within the meaning of the Civil Evidence Act 1968 (part I). Such evidence may be manually prepared or produced directly from the computer, but is based on information held on the computer. A certificate similarly based, advising the existence of a debt, may also be accepted under schedule 7 of the VAT Act 1983, until such time as the evidence may be refuted.