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Preregistration VAT confusion

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When you register for VAT, there’s a time limit for backdating claims for VAT paid before registration. From your date of registration the time limit is:

  • 4 years for goods you still have, or that were used to make other goods you still have
  • 6 months for services

Accountingweb reported on 12th June that the goal posts seem to have moved, here is their example..

Ken has been a self-employed pest controller for many years. He registered for VAT with effect from 1 May 2015, at which point he held a van that cost him £24,000 on 1 May 2013, and equipment that he bought for £9,000 on 1 May 2012, both inclusive of VAT. He expects to use the van for eight years and the tools for five years.

Previously most VAT advisers would advise Ken to reclaim VAT of £4,000 in respect of the van and £1,500 paid on the equipment.

The new HMRC interpretation of EC VAT Directive 2006/112 article 289 (set out in VAT Input Tax Manual para 32000) is that as the van has been used for 2/8th of its life, just £3,000 (6/8 x 4000) of the input VAT can be reclaimed. For the equipment a similar calculation reduces the VAT reclaim to £600 (2/5 x1500).

Ken is obviously losing out by £1,900 of unrecoverable VAT.

Taxation Magazine also have an article pointing out the goal posts have moved

What is worrying is that as so many tax advisers will have given potentially incorrect advice based on the new interpretation by HMRC (which HMRC say isn’t a change), will this mean that we will see backdated enquiries and penalties for clients?

steve@bicknells.net


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