21st August 2008

Conference venues 'owned millions' through tax changes

Conferencing venues across the UK are bracing themselves for a tough winter ahead. Not only have utilities suppliers con. . .

<p>Conferencing venues across the UK are bracing themselves for a tough winter ahead. </p><p>Not only have utilities suppliers confirmed that, with wholesale crude oil prices remaining high, oil and gas bills are set to go up by a further 20 per cent within the coming weeks, but many businesses and organisations that would usually be busy organising an autumn or Christmas conference are now thinking twice as they tighten their belts until the fallout of the credit crunch subsides. </p><p>As such, the release of a new report from the professional services firm KPMG, could not be more welcome, revealing that fresh changes to legislation means that thousands of venues across the country are likely to be owed money by the government. </p><p>Significantly, the adjustments made to the laws concerning the payment of VAT within the conferencing industry are, for the most part, retrospective, meaning many businesses within the sector could be due rebates. </p><p>As Steve Kettle, director of indirect tax at KPMG, noted: "Any hotel who has offered conferencing facilities, including hiring rooms out for functions such as weddings, should be eligible to claim under these changes.</p><p>"As claims can go as far back as 1973, the value of recovery could be significant."</p><p>Indeed, to illustrate the point, the firm revealed that negotiations with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on behalf of a hotel chain has led to the rewarding of a rebate worth some £300,000, a tidy sum no matter the size of the company involved. </p><p>Given that a majority of conferencing and events venues are likely to have paid over-the-odds for their VAT at some point over the past three decades, businesses would be well advised to at least give the matter some consideration, whether through looking at their books themselves or else seeking third-party specialist help, particularly where the size of a rebate would more than offset any accountancy fees. </p><p>While it will almost certainly be the case that conferencing operators on the receiving end of any VAT rebates will look to spend the money on coping with effects of rising inflation and soaring utilities bills, most savvy businesses will also be looking to the long-term future and putting such a windfall into improving its facilities. </p><p>As such, the government's new VAT legislation could well prove to benefit both conference operators and those companies looking to hold an event in the near future, with new flat screen displays and up-to-date audiovisual conferencing technology welcoming delegates and guests over the coming months. <br/><img alt="ADNFCR-1753-ID-18744375-ADNFCR" src="http://feeds.directnews.co.uk/feedtrack/justcopyright.gif?feedid=1753&it..." /></p>