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What Is VAT And How Does It Work

Value-added tax (VAT) is a consumption tax added to the price of goods and services sold in the United Kingdom (UK). VAT is a significant source of revenue for the UK government, and it is an essential part of doing business in the UK. This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of UK VAT and its implications for businesses.

What is VAT And How Does It Work

What Is VAT?

VAT is an indirect tax on the consumption of goods and services. It is a tax on the value added to a product or service at each stage of production or distribution. VAT was introduced in the UK in 1973 as a replacement for Purchase Tax. The current standard rate of VAT in the UK is 20%, but there are also reduced rates of 5% and 0% for certain goods and services.

Who Needs To Register For VAT?

Businesses selling goods or services in the UK with an annual turnover of more than £85,000 must register for VAT. This threshold is based on the total value of taxable goods and services a business sells, not its profit.

Businesses with a turnover below the threshold may voluntarily register for VAT. This can benefit businesses, as they can reclaim the VAT they pay on their purchases (input tax) and offset this against the VAT they charge on their sales (output tax).

How Does VAT Work For Businesses?

When a business is registered for VAT, it must charge VAT on its sales at the appropriate rate. The business must then account for this VAT on its VAT return, typically submitted to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) every three months.

The VAT return shows the amount of VAT charged on sales (output tax) and the amount of VAT paid on purchases (input tax). The business must pay the difference between the output and input taxes to HMRC or may be eligible for a VAT refund if the input tax exceeds the output tax.

Businesses can reclaim input tax on most goods and services they purchase for their business if those purchases are used for business purposes. However, some exceptions exist, such as entertainment expenses and purchases of goods or services used for non-business purposes.

What Are The Implications Of VAT For Businesses?

There are many implications for businesses that are required to register for VAT. Firstly, they must charge VAT on their sales, which can increase the price of their goods or services. This can make them less competitive, notably if their competitors are not registered for VAT.

Secondly, businesses must maintain accurate records of their sales and purchases to ensure they can complete their VAT return correctly. This can be time-consuming and may require additional administrative resources.

Thirdly, businesses must comply with VAT regulations and requirements, which can be complex and subject to change. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in penalties and fines.

What Are The Reduced Rates Of VAT?

The reduced rate of VAT of 5% applies to certain goods and services, including:

  • Domestic fuel and power
  • Installation of energy-saving materials
  • Women’s sanitary products
  • Children’s car seats
  • Renovations and alterations to residential properties
  • Some mobility aids for elderly or disabled people

The zero rates of VAT apply to certain goods and services, including:

  • Food and drink, including most groceries and hot takeaway food
  • Books and newspapers
  • Children’s clothes and shoes
  • Public transport services
  • Exports to non-EU countries

How To Register For VAT?

To register for VAT, businesses must complete an online application on the HMRC website. The application requires businesses to provide details about their business, such as their name, address, and VAT-taxable turnover.

Once a business has registered for VAT, it will receive a VAT registration number from HMRC once its application has been successful.

Needing Tailored Advice?

Ensuring your business reclaims all the VAT it should be is essential; each business is different. Reclaiming VAT incorrectly can cost you thousands in the long run, as specific criteria are required to reclaim all the VAT your business has incurred successfully. Speak with one of our Chartered Accountants today and get your business set up with the HMRC VAT policy correctly.

Why Choose Excel Accountancy Ltd?

Our team has successfully completed accounting work for various clients across multiple industries, acting as the business’s financial accountant. We aim to give you the necessary information to take your business to the next level. Our team has extensive practical work experience to provide you with the jargon-free information you need.

Get In Touch

Looking for tailored advice? Contact the team in Liverpool today to see how we can help take your business to the next level.