The IOTA Secretariat is happy to announce that a new colleague has joined the team. Our newest International Taxation Expert is Jonathan Heath who started on 13 March 2023.
Jonathan Heath has worked for the UK tax authority (HMCE and HMRC) for 32 years, starting as a VAT auditor in London in 1991. He spent his first 10 years working in various areas of audit, including specialising in cash businesses for several years, training other auditors, and carrying out civil and criminal fraud investigation work, including investigations into Carousel Fraud. During this time, he also assisted teams dealing with Excise Duty evasion and was even interviewed by UK breakfast television about this work. While the interview was supposed to be anonymous, because the work was undercover, the interviewer said that he would call him “Jonathan” to protect his identity!
He then moved into policy work, joining HMCE’s Strategy Unit. Here he worked on the UK’s Missing Trader Fraud strategy and was responsible for HMCE’s civil and criminal VAT fraud investigation policy. This role led to his first involvement with IOTA, as the UK’s representative on IOTA’s “Prevention and Detection of VAT Fraud” Area Group for the first 5 years of its existence. He led for HMCE policy on litigation relating to VAT fraud cases, mostly Carousel fraud, and gained experience of the judicial process ranging from VAT Tribunal appeals to Judicial Reviews to all the way up to the European Court of Justice.
After 4 years in policy, and just after HMCE merged with Inland Revenue in the UK to form HMRC, he took the opportunity to spend 15 months working on Malta as an EU Residential Twinning Advisor. The project was aimed at improving the capacity of the Maltese administration to deal with VAT fraud and evasion and led to the introduction of new policies, legislation along with new training for all auditors and the first attempts to measure the VAT Gap in Malta. One particular (non-tax) highlight of his time in Malta, though, was that he was invited to a reception with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. They were over in Malta for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting and the reception was on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. He met Prince Phillip and learnt the truth behind at least one of the infamous stories about him “putting his foot in it”.
On his return to the UK and HMRC he took on responsibility for the now merged Deparment’s civil and criminal investigation policies along with policy responsibility for a wide range of powers mainly used by Criminal investigators and Customs staff, such as arrest & restraint, witness statements, search of person, search of vessels, search of baggage, and seizure and forfeiture. During this time he was responsible for reintroducing a process to carry out lower level civil investigations of VAT fraud and also responsible for the production of the first guidance on Transgender Search of Person to be endorsed by LGBTQ representative groups.
Partially as a result of moving from London to Liverpool, Jonathan became the head of the UK VAT Central Liaison Office in 2010. This led to a huge amount of EU related work. He became involved, as a UK delegate, in Working Party Tax Questions debates around EU legislation relating to VAT Administrative Cooperation. He participated in a large number of Fiscalis workshops and working groups, covering diverse subjects from statistics, to issues with the EU VAT Refund System and other IT systems, to more operational matters such as Joint Audits and the EU’s Multilateral Control Platform Group. He was as the UK delegate to the Standing Committee on Administrative Cooperation until the UK formally left the EU, but continued to work with the EU on the impacts of Brexit on VAT Administrative Cooperation and the implementation of VAT IT to support the Northern Ireland Protocol. He was responsible for the UK management of IT systems relating to VAT Administrative Cooperation, including the VAT MOSS system, the EU VAT Refund System and the VIES system. He was also responsible for the UK’s NOVA system and the UK’s online VAT number checking service and has been involved in turning the UK’s ‘’Making Tax Digital for VAT’’ programme from project status into business as usual.
Jonathan has worked collaboratively with tax officials from many EU and non-EU administrations over the years and is experienced at delivering presentations on technical subjects, facilitating working groups and acting as a rapporteur. He has worked as a VAT auditor and a VAT fraud investigator and has a range of policy experience. He has had many years of experience of IT implementation, from the perspective of a product owner, and understands the challenges digital transformation can pose.
Jonathan’s role in the IOTA Secretariat will initially include coordination of meetings on use of big data and analytics and events relating to digital transformation. He will also be working on the wider Inventory of Tax Technology initiative on IOTA’s behalf.
Welcome to the team, Jonathan. We are looking forward to working with you!