Why will GST officers visit my business?
We're visiting your business because we need to check that your declarations and tax returns are correct, and that you are applying GST rules correctly.
A visit by GST officers is a good opportunity to ask questions and clear up any issues you do not fully understand.
When will visits take place and how often?
The frequency of the visits will depend on the type of business you run.
We'll visit you often if you:
- make regular refund claims
- don't comply with the GST rules
- make inaccurate GST returns
For help with completing your return, see 'Your GST return'.
Your GST return
Who will arrange a visit to my business?
To arrange a visit, a GST officer will either phone or write to you. They will request a visit during normal working hours.
It might be necessary for you to confirm the arrangement, so take the name and phone number of the officer who contacted you.
Where will the visit take place?
Visits will normally take place at your main place of business - (ie where the day-to-day activities of your business are carried out).
If your records are kept somewhere else - like your accountant's office - you can ask that the meeting takes place there instead. However, our officers may still wish to visit your main business premises to check that your taxable activities are accurately reflected in your business accounts.
Which of my staff need to be on hand to help the officers?
Efnsure that you, and anyone else who is involved in the day-to-day running of your business and the keeping of your records, is available at the time of our visit. If your records are computerised you will need to have someone available who can explain the operation of your computer system and the way it processes and stores data.
After the initial discussions with our officers, they may not need your assistance until the end of the visit (when they share their findings with you). You will, however, need to be available in case they want to ask further questions.
Do I need to prepare anything before the officers arrive?
Before a visit takes place, you should ensure that you have all necessary records and documents available for inspection. You should also be prepared to provide the officers with any supplementary information that they ask for.
The visit itself may take a few hours or a few days to complete, depending on the complexity of your business and how well your accounting records have been kept. The officers will not interrupt your normal business activities more than is absolutely necessary.
How can I identify GST officers?
Our officers carry an official ID card showing their photograph, which they must show if you ask to see it.
What will happen during the visit?
Our officers will:
- talk to you about your business and how it operates
- examine your accounts, records and GST business transactions
- understand how you account for cash purchases and stocks
- inspect your business premises to ensure that all taxable activities are accurately reflected in your business accounts
- discuss GST issues relating to your business
- tell you about the findings of the visit and any adjustments that you may have to make to your record-keeping
- issue an assessment of any tax that is owed to you, or that you owe to us
Officers' authority to enter and inspect premises
If your records are accurate, you have made proper returns, and you are honest when responding to our questions and requests, our visit shouldn't be confrontational.
However, the GST law gives authority to our officers to enter and inspect your premises, and take samples, extracts, information and copies of your records.
If you are asked for information that you do not have available at the time of the visit, the officers will give you a reasonable period of time to produce it.
In extreme cases, our officers have the authority to seize and secure records, computers and goods, using reasonable force as necessary. This will only occur if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence or serious non-compliance has occurred, or is about to occur, and GST revenue is at risk. They may be accompanied by a police officer in these circumstances.
If you fail to cooperate with, or obstruct, a GST officer in the execution of their duty, or you fail to comply with a lawful requirement of a GST officer, you will be committing an offence and will be liable to a fine and six months' imprisonment.
If you provide false or misleading information to a GST officer, you will be committing an offence and will be liable to a fine and five years’ imprisonment.
If you want to know more, see the the following provisions of the GST law:
- Schedule 8 gives details of powers of entry and search of premises and persons, and the execution of warrants
- Part 17 covers offences relating to dealings with the comptroller and tax officers
- Schedule 7 states that the powers and functions of customs and postal officers under the Customs and Excise (Jersey) Law 1999 shall apply in respect of GST on the importation of goods in the same way as they would in respect of customs duty
Goods and Services Tax (Jersey) Law 2007 on Jersey Law website
At the end of the visit
At the end of the visit the officers will share their findings with you. You should take time to carefully review any areas of concern pointed out by them. If the officers have concluded that your tax declarations are incorrect you may be issued with an assessment for the payment of any outstanding amount. They will explain how this amount has been calculated.
How to appeal
If you don't agree with our officers’ findings or assessment, you should write to the Comptroller of Taxes, clearly setting out which areas you disagree with. You must specify, in detail, the grounds of your objection and you should include any information which you feel may not have been properly taken into account during the visit but which supports your position.
If you are dissatisfied with the response from the comptroller you may appeal, under Part Six of the Income Tax (Jersey) Law 1961, to the Commissioners of Appeal, who will hear and decide any matter in dispute between the comptroller and yourself.
For more information on the appeals process, see 'Appealing a GST decision'.
Appealing a GST decision