Most VAT-registered businesses, including pubs, are charged a climate change levy (CCL) on their commercial energy usage, but domestic usage is exempt from the levy.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has advised licensees not to use external companies to claim rebates and to ensure they are on the correct exemptions by filling out a certificate.
Ruth Comber of the Chequer Inn, in Steyning, West Sussex, has slammed a service provided by Kent-based Menzies Energy LLP after she had to repay her full energy rebate and commission to HMRC as VAT.
The pub was refunded £1,193.90 for electricity by British Gas and £324.79 for gas from E.On, and commission of £589.90 (35% of the total rebate) was paid to Menzies Energy.
She has had to pay everything back to HMRC because Menzies was unable to provide her with information showing how the rebate was broken down between the CCL and VAT.
“We want to know why we can’t be refunded the 35% commission they charged us on the VAT because they shouldn’t have charged us for it,” said Comber.
Steve Wilson, of the King’s Head in Wells, Somerset, also expects to have to repay his £2,000 energy rebate to HRMC after using Menzies.
David Sheridan of Menzies said: “We are in the process of investigating these complaints and are working closely with our clients to resolve the issues.”
An HMRC spokesman explained: “All that a business needs to do to claim the reduced rate of VAT and exemption from the CCL is to complete a certificate rather than use an external company that may charge commissions.”
David Jones, chairman of the Association of Licensed Trade Accountants (ALTA), said: “It all sounds very attractive when somebody comes along and says they can get you a rebate, but if what you are being offered sounds like it is too good to be true, then it probably is. It is always best to take advice before you jump in.”
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