It is often forgotten that input tax can be claimed on certain expenses incurred before a company is incorporated, as long as a number of conditions are met:
- the goods or services were supplied to a person who became a director, employee or shareholder once the incorporation had taken place;
- the company pays for, or undertakes to pay for, the expenses in question
- in the case of services, they were incurred within six months of the VAT registration, a time limit of four years applies to goods;
- the goods or services have a direct link to future taxable supplies made by the company.
That invoices were dated between 22 February 2016 and 5 January 2017. The company was incorporated on 8 July 2016 and became VAT registered on 1 August 2016 i.e. the six-month time window for services was clearly met. But HMRC disallowed input tax on the following grounds:
- the letter of engagement was between the director and in this case the company lawyers – therefore, the supply of services was to him as an individual and not the company;
- the costs were of benefit to the director and not for the company.
The tribunal noted that if HMRC insisted that invoices and contracts were only ever made out to the VAT-registered business, then no pre-incorporation input tax claim would ever succeed.
You can’t have invoices addressed to an entity that
didn’t exist at the time! The tribunal commented: “We have found HMRC’s case
somewhat confused.” 
 Reproduced from Accountingweb