Need Advice on VAT?

You must make sure you comply with VAT regulations… Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse!

VAT registered businesses act as unpaid tax collectors and are required to account both promptly and accurately for all the tax revenue collected by them. The VAT system is policed by HMRC with heavy penalties for breaches of the legislation. We highlight some of the areas that you must consider.

A transaction is within the scope of VAT if:

  1.       There is a supply of goods or services
  2.       Made in the UK
  3.       By a taxable person
  4.       In the course or furtherance of business.

Output VAT– when businesses charge VAT on their sales and the sales are referred to as outputs. The output VAT is being collected from the customer by the business on behalf of HMRC and must be regularly paid over to them.

Input VAT– when VAT is charged on most goods and services purchased by the business. However the input VAT suffered on the goods and services purchased can be deducted from the amount of output tax owed. Please note that certain categories of input tax can never be reclaimed, i.e business entertainment and for most business cars.

Points to consider


  • Taxable supplies are mainly either standard rated (20%) or zero rated (0%).
  • There is in addition a reduced rate of 5% which applies to a small number of certain specific taxable supplies.
  • There are certain supplies that are not taxable and these are known as exempt supplies.
  • If your business is making only exempt supplies you cannot register for VAT and cannot therefore recover any input tax.
  • If your business is making zero rated supplies you should register for VAT as your supplies are taxable (but at 0%) and recovery of input tax is allowed.

Registration – is it necessary?

You are required to register for VAT if the value of your taxable supplies exceeds a set annual figure (currently £73,000). If you are making supplies below the limit you can apply for voluntary registration. This would allow you to reclaim input VAT, which could result in a repayment of VAT if your business was principally making zero rated supplies.If you have not yet started to make taxable supplies but intend to do so, you can apply for registration. In this way input tax on start up expenses can be recovered.

 Taxable person

A taxable person is anyone who makes or intends to make taxable supplies and is required to be registered. For the purpose of VAT registration a person includes:

  •       individuals
  •       partnerships
  •       companies, clubs and associations
  •       charities

If any individual carries on two or more businesses all the supplies made in those businesses will be added together in determining whether or not the individual is required to register for VAT.


Once registered you must make a quarterly return to HMRC showing amounts of output tax to be accounted for and of deductible input tax together with other statistical information. For businesses whose turnover is more than £100,000 (excluding VAT) returns must be filed online for accounting periods that start on or after 1 April 2010. In addition, businesses which register for VAT on or after 1 April 2010 will have to file online, regardless of turnover.

Returns must be completed within one month of the end of the period it covers, although generally an extra seven calendar days are allowed for online forms. Electronic payment is also compulsory from April 2010 for those businesses filing online. Businesses who make zero rated supplies and who receive repayments of VAT may find it beneficial to submit monthly returns. Businesses with expected annual taxable supplies not exceeding £1,350,000 may apply to join the annual accounting scheme whereby they will make monthly or quarterly payments of VAT but will only have to complete one VAT return at the end of the year.

Record keeping

It is important that a VAT registered business maintains complete and up to date records including details of all supplies, purchases and expenses. In addition a VAT account should be maintained. This is a summary of output tax payable and input tax recoverable by the business. These records should be kept for six years.

 Inspection of records

The maintenance of records and calculation of the liability is the responsibility of the registered person but HMRC will need to be able to check that the correct amount of VAT is being paid over. From time to time a VAT officer will come and inspect the business records (known as a control visit). The VAT officer will want to ensure that VAT is applied correctly and that the returns and other VAT records are properly written up. However, you should not assume that in the absence of any errors being discovered, your business has been given a clean bill of health.

Offences and penalties

HMRC have wide powers to penalise businesses who ignore or incorrectly apply the VAT regulations. Penalties can be levied in respect of the following:

  •     late returns/payments
  •     late registration
  •     errors in returns

 Cash accounting scheme

If your annual turnover does not exceed £1,350,000 you can account for VAT on the basis of the cash you pay and receive rather than on the basis of invoices.

Retail schemes

There are special schemes for retailers as it is impractical for most retailers to maintain all the records required of a registered trader.

The Flat Rate scheme

  • Allows businesses with annual taxable turnover not exceeding £150,000 to pay VAT as a percentage of their total business income…
  • So… no specific claims to recover input tax need to be made.
  • Simplifies the way small businesses account for VAT 
  • Means some businesses can result in a reduction in the amount of VAT that is payable.

 How we can help

Ensuring that you comply with all the VAT regulations is so important! Bevan and Buckland can help you in a number of ways by:

  •       tailoring your accounting systems to bring together the VAT information accurately and quickly
  •       ensuring that your business is VAT efficient and that adequate finance is available to meet your VAT liability on time
  •       providing assistance with the completion of VAT returns
  •       negotiating with HMRC if disagreements arise and in reaching settlement
  •       advising as to whether any of the available schemes may be appropriate for you

So why not call one of our specialist team today on:

Sara Dennis

01792 410108, or email:



Andrew Muxworthy

01792 410113, or email:




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