Businesses become liable for vat when sales reach the VAT threshold set on 1st April 2012 at £77,000 p.a. regardless of whether that business has registered for VAT purposes.
Businesses whose customers are VAT registered should consider opting for voluntary registration as sales would not be affected by registration and registering would permit that business to also reclaim VAT inputs on purchases. Businesses with mainly non vat registered customers may wish to delay registration until the point is reached at which liability to vat becomes inevitable. Consideration should be given to maintaining sales below the VAT threshold provided this does not result in a significant loss of profit. When the VAT threshold of £77,000 p.a. is exceeded Customs & Excise should be advised. It may be possible to delay registration if sales breached the vat threshold due to an abnormal sales period that may not necessarily be repeated in the foreseeable future.
Having reached the point of VAT registration consideration should be given to the various VAT schemes which are available to either simplify the vat calculation or smooth the vat liability.
Choose the right VAT scheme for your business
Unless a VAT scheme is adopted then the standard inputs and outputs VAT scheme would be applied. This involves charging all customers vat on sales known as output VAT and paying this amount to the VAT office each quarter. VAT Registered businesses can also deduct from the VAT liability the input VAT on purchases that suppliers have charged the business. It is important to ensure all sales and purchase invoices are retained and an audit rail from the individual transactions to the VAT liability is maintained as Customs & Excise do inspect VAT records, the frequency of those visits, often once every three years can increase dramatically if the records are considered inadequate. Accounting Software can provide a solution to record keeping and DIY Accounting produce automated VAT calculations from the basic data entry of sales and purchases on accounting spreadsheets.
VAT Flat Rate Scheme
The VAT flat rate scheme can be adopted by businesses that have an annual turnover excluding VAT of under £150,000 p.a.
Instead of paying the difference between VAT on sales and VAT on purchases businesses that have adopted a flat rate scheme pay VAT at a percentage of sales in line with the average for that trade sector. VAT is not reclaimable on purchases. The Customs & Excise website contains details of the percentages for each sector.
Customers are charged VAT at the normal vat rate, 20% if standard rated goods. The actual VAT payable is then calculated at the appropriate percentage of the total sales figure including VAT. An adjustment to the accounts would then be required to adjust for the difference between the VAT paid and the amount payable if an inputs and outputs basis had been used. DIY Accounting software automates this flat rate calculation by automatically calculating the VAT on sales at the flat rate and expensing the VAT input to the purchase accounts.
Businesses in their first year of VAT registration also receive a 1% reduction in the flat rate for their trade sector.
Annual VAT Accounting Scheme
Not suitable if you receive repayments of VAT, the annual accounting scheme is based upon an annual estimate of the VAT bill which is then paid in monthly or quarterly instalments throughout the year with the balance payable or received at the end of the year when the annual VAT return has been submitted.
The VAT threshold for this scheme is businesses with a sales turnover not expected to exceed £1.25m.
The main benefit of the annual accounting scheme is to smooth the VAT payments over the year.
VAT Cash Accounting Scheme
Under the VAT cash accounting scheme the VAT return and liability to pay vat is based upon the date sales were received and the date purchases were paid rather than the invoice tax points.
The VAT threshold for the cash accounting scheme is businesses with a sales turnover excluding vat of under £1.35m.which can be extended for existing users to a turnover of £1.6m and left in place for up to 6 months after the VAT threshold has been breached.
Accounting for VAT using the Cash Accounting Scheme may require businesses to record sales and purchases on cash received and paid basis and adjust accounting records for accruals. Alternatively, sales and purchases can be entered into the Accounting records based upon the invoice tax points and a quarterly adjustment made for debtors and creditors at the beginning and end of each quarter. Such accounting adjustments would not be suitable for everyone.
VAT Retail Schemes
Retailers selling to the general public may not easily be able to produce VAT sales invoices to individual customers and there are various VAT retail schemes available on the Customs & Excise website that retailers can adopt.
The main benefits of the VAT retail schemes are to dispense with every customer being issued a VAT invoice unless requested.
VAT retail schemes can be used in conjunction with both flat rate schemes and the annual VAT accounting scheme.