Is there a VAT compliance recruitment crisis in the UK?

This is a regular topic of conversation with frustrated hiring managers right now…

And those who received our Q2 Indirect Tax report will have noted our commentary about the unprecedented demands for VAT compliance professionals in the UK right now.

Tax in professional services has always been a candidate-driven market but, right now, the competition is fiercer than ever & that’s due to a variety of reasons. 

But why are VAT compliance providers in the UK really feeling the pinch right now?

The short answer… Brexit.

Sourcing VAT compliance professionals at the 2-5 years experience mark has always been competitive but the pressure to fill vacancies has been heightened since the UK left the EU.


With VAT compliance service providers offering a cross-border solution, recruiters are usually mandated to engage with those who not only possess the VAT technical knowledge but are also bilingual/multilingual in another European language. Germans, French, Polish, Spanish, and Italian are the most sought after?

Historically, these UK-based departments have always been able to dip into the talent pools across Europe and lull them to London or Brighton (the hotbeds for VAT compliance? services in the UK?) with the prospects of a career in the UK and an increased salary. However, since Brexit kicked in and such moves are now only possible with a sponsored tier 2 visa, firms are all battling it out in a much smaller domestic ?pool of candidates?.

With the demand high and the supply low, the market value of those with cross-border VAT compliance expertise (primarily from a services background rather than in-house) and a European language has gone through the roof!

This is why you’re seeing some baffling salaries for people with barely any experience.

So what’s the solution to the VAT compliance crisis?

For me, there are only really 4 viable solutions:

  • Be prepared to train someone from scratch
  • Start considering how you can offer tier 2 visas to bring talent from compliance centres across Europe
  • Find a way to hire remote skills across Europe
  • And if none of the above, you’ll need to deepen your pockets

If you’re struggling to recruit VAT compliance professionals across the UK or Europe, don’t leave it to the chance of someone stumbling across your job advert and then just happening to choose your team over 5 others. Be more strategic and think about how you can come out on top of these tough market conditions.

Over the last 8 years, Harvey John has been behind the recruitment campaigns for the vast majority of VAT compliance service providers in Europe – whether that’s been high-volume projects or ad hoc hires.

Alex Mann is a Director at Harvey John

Get in touch if you’d like advice.


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