I first ventured into all things VAT back in 1991 as a VAT Inspector in HM Customs and Excise and one of the youngest ever direct entrant Officers in the UK. The interviewing board at the time said I was ‘flippant’ to my Training Officer probably because in my young ignorant years I had not realised that HM Customs and Excise administered VAT. There was I expecting to be working with dogs (one of my passions in life apart from VAT) at an airport sniffing out various contraband items only to be up to my eyes in all manner of VAT problems but from the gamekeeper’s side of the fence. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, in what other job do you consider whether something is a cake or a biscuit? Or whether palmistry can actually be classed as consultancy? I thrive on the intracacies of VAT and its surrealness at times and I strive to put this fiscal theme park and complex parallel universe of VAT (a VAT Tribunal Chairman’s words not mine) into Plain English, practical advice.
Simone and I trained together as VAT Inspectors in HM Customs & Excise in the early 90s and have remained firm friends ever since despite a few years of losing touch. It helps that we share the same, dare I say it, passion and enthusiasm for VAT and the same practical approach to resolving the conundrums it brings and like the rest of the team always with a smile on my face.
David Miller is our resident Customs Specialist. David has more than 25 years Customs & VAT experience both working within HMRC as a Customs Officer controlling and verifying businesses in the International Sector (and then a VAT audit officer) and as a Customs & VAT Adviser. As an adviser David has worked with many businesses that import and export not just to ensure Customs & VAT matters are compliantly dealt with but, more importantly, that they are dealt with in an advantageous way.
In addition within the Customs field, David also has extensive knowledge of all aspects of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) and specifically in advising and assisting businesses attain the accreditation of AEO status. As part of this David has attained the Level 3 BTEC Advanced Award qualification in Security Management Systems for the Supply Chain which assists businesses with Section 5 (Safety & Security) measures. David also has extensive knowledge of VAT matters and in conjunction with his Customs work advises businesses, many of whom have international VAT requirements on VAT matters.
With a daughter, a dog, 3 horses and a husband (notice he comes last), I work for VATease to keep myself sane. I set up and ran a very successful company in 1995 importing Italian furniture. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, and closed my business in 2005 when I had my little girl, despite being told I would never have children. I took time out to be with her but when she started school , I was itching for another challenge and to get back to work. The 10 years I spent building up my company provided me with insight into the practical aspects of running a business. I met Simone by chance and we hit it off immediately, sharing the same drive and attitude towards life and work. She approached me regarding the role as Practice Manager and I jumped at it. (Un)Fortunately I developed Simone’s passion for VAT. If Simone is ever unavailable then come to me and I’ll help sort out your queries. I also look after VATease accounts and general office issues.
It is through the wonders of Facebook I am here at VATease. Back in 1993 I was at university and working at a pub to make ends meet; the same pub Simone later worked at. Even then, she was married to VAT , as her day job was a VAT Inspector. 20 years later we reconnected through Facebook and Simone asked me to become her PA and Office Manager. My working life before VATease involved a number of roles, including the management of pubs, cabin crew and teaching 11 – 18 year olds music. It seemed a natural progression to move into a PA role with the variety of skills I have amalgamated during this time; so challenge accepted. I now run the day to day office operations and organise and assist Simone with a number of things. I find the role rewarding and believe it or not, exciting too! As a little aside, if you ever speak to or meet Simone and would like a giggle, ask her about the Samsonite briefcase story; one of many she has about her time as a VAT Inspector.
For those of you who have not noticed the similarity in the name, Simone is also my Mum which can make for an interesting life! You could say I have been involved with VAT at an embryonic stage! As well as having responsibility for social media, I have also caught the bug for VAT, (it must be in my genes) and assist Simone with VAT queries.
Even at VATease we sometimes get a little stressed with taxing VAT conundrums. So, we have our lovely little office dog called Saba. Saba is a rescue dog who was rescued from a horrible life with a hunter in Spain. It’s a well-known fact that having pets and stroking animals is very therapeutic and calming and we certainly think so here at VATease. It also comes in handy that at the back of our office is a beautiful park where we walk Saba when wishing to mull over a particularly perplexing VAT problem.
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