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10 ways to pay less VAT

3D Vat button block cube text

Here are my top 10 ways to pay less VAT

1 Choose the best VAT Scheme for your business

Standard VAT Scheme – on this scheme the VAT is based on tax points from invoices

Flat Rate Scheme – try our calculator

Flat Rate Calculator 2

VAT Cash Accounting Scheme – if your turnover is below £1.35m you can account for VAT on a Cash basis, this is particularly helpful if your customers pay you on slower terms than you pay your suppliers

Annual Accounting Scheme for VAT – if your turnover is below £1.35m you could join the Annual Scheme and complete one return for the year but you make either 9 interim payments or 3 quarterly interim payments

Retail VAT Schemes – These are specific schemes aimed at mainly at shops and help to overcome the issues of mixed vat rate goods

VAT Margin Scheme – The margin scheme relates to second hand goods and accounts for VAT on the margin, for example on the sale of cars

2 Claim Pre-registration VAT

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

Be careful not to over claim – see this blog for details http://stevejbicknell.com/2015/06/24/preregistration-vat-confusion/

3 Property Investors might benefit from a Development Company

Property Development is a trade, where as Property Investment isn’t – renting out a residential property is a VAT exempt supply.

If you are planning significant building work, setting up a Development Company or using a building contractor might save VAT.

Assuming you employ a builder…

The VAT Rules are in VAT Notice 708 Buildings & Construction

Your builder may be able to charge you VAT at the reduced rate of 5 per cent if you are converting premises into:

  • a ‘single household dwelling’
  • a different number of ‘single household dwellings’
  • a ‘multiple occupancy dwelling’, such as bed-sits, or
  • premises intended for use solely for a ‘relevant residential purpose’

As your builder will be VAT registered, they reclaim the VAT they are charged and then charge you VAT at 5%.

If your business is property rental and you do the work yourself, you can’t take advantage of the 5% rate.

If your Development Company is VAT registered you can reclaim all the VAT.

4 Do you need to charge VAT on Intercompany Charges

There are situations where one company is VAT registered and other related companies are either partially exempt or not registered for VAT, so in these circumstances not charging VAT is an advantage.

The following are not Taxable supplies for VAT:

Common Directors – Notice 700/34 (May 2012)

Joint Employment – Notice 700/34 (May 2012)

Paying a Bill on behalf of an associated business

Insurance

5 Use VAT Groups for Business Acquisition Costs

Basically HMRC disallow Input VAT relating to Investments.

The most well known example of this was when BAA purchased Airport Development Investments Limited in June 2006, the decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal in February 2013.

The BAA VAT group sought to recover the VAT (£6.7m) incurred on the acquisition costs but recovery was refused by HMRC on the basis that they considered ADIL had not made onward taxable supplies, had not demonstrated any intention to make taxable supplies and was not a member of the VAT group at the time costs were incurred.

BAA used an SPV (Ferrovial) to purchase ADIL but did not bring the SPV into the BAA VAT Group until September 2006, 3 months after the acquisition.

The lessons to learn from this are:

  1. Once you have successfully made the acquisition join a VAT Group immediately and make it clear in correspondence that the SPV intends to join the VAT Group at the earliest opportunity
  2. Consider not using an SPV
  3. Buy the Assets instead of the Shares
  4. Show that the SPV will make taxable management charges
  5. Consider the scope of the advisors work, HMRC may disallow advice focussed on passively holding shares

6 How Hotels save VAT

Here are some VAT examples for Hotels – HMRC Reference:Notice 709/3 (October 2011) :

The Long Stay Rule

If a guest stays in your establishment for a continuous period of more than 28 days, then from the 29th day of the stay you should charge VAT only on that part of the payment that is not for accommodation.

VAT Exempt Meeting Rooms and Refreshments

Hiring a room for a meeting, or letting of shops and display cases are generally exempt, but you may choose to standard-rate them by opting to tax, see Notice 742A Opting to tax land and buildings.

VAT on Deposits

Most deposits serve as advanced payments, and you must account for VAT in the return period in which you receive the payment. If you have to refund a deposit, you can reclaim any VAT you have accounted for in your next return.

Normally, if you make a cancellation charge to a guest who cancels a booking, VAT is not due, because it is compensation.

7 VAT on Pool Cars

When you buy a car you generally can’t reclaim the VAT. There are some exceptions – for example, when the car is used mainly as one of the following:

  • a taxi
  • for driving instruction
  • for self-drive hire

If you lease a car for business purposes you’ll normally be able to reclaim 50 per cent of the VAT you pay. But you can reclaim 100 per cent of the VAT if the car is used exclusively for a business purpose.

8 Use a Tronc for Tips

Tips are outside the scope of VAT when genuinely freely given. This is so regardless of whether:

• the customer requires the amount to be included on the bill
• payment is made by cheque or credit/debit card
• or not the amount is passed to employees.

Restaurant service charges are part of the consideration for the underlying supply of the meals if customers are required to pay them and are therefore
standard rated.

If customers have a genuine option as to whether to pay the service charges, it is accepted that they are not consideration (even if the amounts appear on the invoice) and therefore fall outside the scope of VAT.

Further information is available from: Notices 700 The VAT guide and 709/1 Catering and takeaway food

9 Get your TOGC right – Transfer of a Going Concern

Normally the sale of the assets of a VAT registered or VAT registerable business will be subject to VAT at the appropriate rate. A transfer of a business as a going concern for VAT purposes (TOGC) however is the sale of a business including assets which must be treated as a matter of law, as ‘neither a supply of goods nor a supply of services’ by virtue of meeting certain conditions. Where the sale meets the conditions then the supply is outside the scope of VAT and therefore VAT is not chargeable.

It is important to be aware that the TOGC rules are mandatory and not optional. So it is important to establish from the outset whether the sale is or is not a TOGC.

The main conditions are:

  • the assets must be sold as part of the transfer of a ‘business’ as a ‘going concern’
  • the assets are to be used by the purchaser with the intention of carrying on the same kind of ‘business’ as the seller (but not necessarily identical)
  • where the seller is a taxable person, the purchaser must be a taxable person already or become one as the result of the transfer
  • in respect of land which would be standard rated if it were supplied, the purchaser must notify HMRC that he has opted to tax the land by the relevant date, and must notify the seller that their option has not been disapplied by the same date
  • where only part of the ‘business’ is sold it must be capable of operating separately
  • there must not be a series of immediately consecutive transfers of ‘business’

The TOGC rules are compulsory. You cannot choose to ‘opt out’. So, it is very important that you establish from the outset whether the business is being sold as a TOGC. Incorrect treatment could result in corrective action by HMRC which may attract a penalty and or interest.

10 Choose the best time to register for VAT

You may decide to voluntarily register to reclaim VAT you have paid out to set up you business or you might decide to wait till you have to register to gain a competitive advantage.

You must register for VAT if:

  • your VAT taxable turnover is more than £82,000 (the ‘threshold’) in a 12 month period
  • you receive goods in the UK from the EU worth more than £82,000
  • you expect to go over the threshold in a single 30 day period

steve@bicknells.net

Will Small Businesses be exempted from VAT MOSS?

Europa Impressionen

Before 1st January 2015 all businesses supplying telecommunications, broadcasting and e-services such as downloaded ‘apps’, music, gaming, e-books and similar services to private consumers located in other EU Member States (referred to as ‘B2C’ supplies) were taxed where the business supplier was established, which is simple to understand and implement.

Since 1st January 2015 VAT is now charged in the country where the customer has ‘use and enjoyment’ of the services.

So lets say you are an American (normally zero rated) on holiday in France, even though you pay with an American credit card and buy from a UK supplier because you are reading your ebook in France, French VAT will apply. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it.

To help with this HMRC introduced the VAT MOSS (Mini One Stop Shop).

Overview

If your business supplies digital services to consumers in the EU, you can register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (VAT MOSS) scheme. There are 2 UK VAT MOSS schemes that operate in an almost identical way:

  • Union VAT MOSS scheme for businesses established in the EU including the UK
  • Non-Union VAT MOSS scheme for businesses based outside the EU (for example, the USA, Canada, China)

By using the VAT MOSS scheme, you won’t have to register for VAT in every EU member state where you make digital service supplies to consumers.

Once you register for a UK VAT MOSS scheme HMRC will set you up automatically for the online VAT MOSS Returns service.

You need to submit a single VAT MOSS Return and payment to HMRC each calendar quarter. HMRC will then forward the relevant parts of your return and payment to the tax authorities in the member state(s) where your consumers are located. This fulfils your VAT obligations.

Unless businesses opt to register for MOSS, businesses that make intra EU B2C supplies of telecommunications, broadcasting and e-services will be required to register and account for VAT in every Member State in which they have customers. MOSS will give these businesses the option of registering in just the UK and accounting for VAT on supplies to their customers in other Member States using a single online MOSS VAT return submitted to HMRC. This will significantly reduce their administrative burdens.

  • Examples of telecommunications services include: fixed and mobile telephone services; videophone services; paging services; facsimile, telegraph and telex services; access to the internet and worldwide web.
  • Examples of broadcasting services include: radio and television programmes transmitted over a radio or television network, and live broadcasts over the internet.
  • Examples of e-services include: video on demand, downloaded applications (or “apps”), music downloads, gaming, e-books, anti-virus software and online auctions.

Fiscalis conference (7th to 9th September 2015)

Representatives from all EU finance ministries were at the Fiscalis conference in Dublin last week to discuss the implementation of the new EU VAT rules, and how they have been working since their introduction in January 2015.

Accounting Web reported …

One of the key takeaways from the consultation was a general agreement that there should be a threshold to exempt smaller businesses from the rules. The commission stated that it intends to propose legislation for a threshold beneath which companies will be VAT exempt, but did not confirm a figure.

There was also a general agreement that above this threshold there should be what many are calling a ‘soft landing’: A simplified version of the rule for businesses that does not create a financial cliff for those who hit the threshold.

Let’s hope that an exemption can be put in place very soon and ideally as proposed in the EU VAT Action Campaign below

EU VAT Action Campaign (started 28th August 2015)

Please circulate this article as widely as possible, as soon as possible, with as many of your business contacts and other networks.

Write to your national tax authority and finance ministry, to your MPs, MEPs, other elected representatives and to any business organisations which you belong to, insisting that the EU act immediately to:

1. Introduce a threshold of €100,000 for cross-border trade (i.e. based on how much you’re selling digitally to the rest of the EU, outside of your home country). As far as your domestic turnover is concerned, your own country’s VAT rules will still apply.

2. Simplify the rules for all micro businesses (i.e. sub-€2m turnover) to allow ONE piece of data as evidence of place of supply, instead of the current 2-3, with that piece of data being the customer location as supplied by the payment processor to businesses using all levels of their services, not just to those purchasing premium options.

3. Immediately suspend these rules for micro businesses, so that they can revert to their domestic VAT rules and pay taxes according to those regulations during the 2 years it could take for the agreed idea of a VATMOSS threshold to become law.

4. Amend the legislation so that all Member States are legally required to direct their VATMOSS communications through the business’s home tax authority for all micro businesses, to remove the threat and fear of receiving demands and ‘system error’ letters from 27 different tax authorities.

One last thing; please take the few extra minutes to contact these people direct rather than using a bulk-emailing service. These websites have become a victim of their own success in flooding inboxes, so letters coming via these routes are increasingly ignored. You can still send the same letter to them all but you will need to copy and paste and send it individually to be most effective.

 

steve@bicknells.net

Would you like to pay less VAT? have you tried Flat Rate?

flat-rate-calculator-2

Google Docs Link https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NyVN2XW3hjpcAYFdjGPCrbeMa-HyfOcgy3eKnNj2wi0/edit#gid=68376799

Usually, how much VAT a business pays or claims back from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the difference between the VAT they charge customers and pay on their purchases.

With the Flat Rate Scheme:

  • you pay a fixed rate of VAT over to HMRC
  • you keep the difference between what you charge your customers and pay over to HMRC
  • you can’t reclaim the VAT on your purchases – except for certain capital assets over £2,000

To join the scheme your VAT turnover must be less than £150,000 (excluding VAT) and you must apply to HMRC.

You can join the scheme:

Confirmation you’ve joined the scheme is sent to your VAT online account (or in the post if you don’t apply online).

In your first year as a VAT-registered business the rate is reduced by 1% until the day before your registration anniversary.

The Flat Rate Scheme has its own Cash Basis and Retail Systems. (VAT Notice 733)

Try our calculator to see if you could save money!

steve@bicknells.net

VAT for sole trader start-ups

How to maximise your VAT reclaim

As any new business knows, you can incur significant costs at the outset before you get any income.  Most of these start-up costs will have VAT included and if you plan properly you should be able to recover this VAT as long as you are planning to make taxable supplies.

Save pounds on VAT

Plan ahead and reclaim everything

If you are setting up a business and can ahead, you can register for VAT from the date your business will start.  For most traders there is not any restriction on the date the business can start, but for some professional services eg barristers and advocates, no trade exists until they qualify.  To maximise the VAT to be reclaimed, the sole trader can register for VAT in advance of date of commencement, effective the date they are due to qualify.  This means that the VAT registration will be in place from the 1st day of trading and all sales invoices can be issued as VAT invoices.

Pre-registration VAT

There are specific rules allowing pre-registration VAT to be reclaimed, but any claims to recover pre-registration VAT must relate to the same trade and made by the same person.  A sole trader who incorporates the business is not the same legal person as the new company.  Any VAT suffered by the (unregistered) sole trader can’t be claimed as pre-registration VAT by the new company.

Get help with registering

Your accountant will be able to register you for VAT and recommend the best scheme for you.  It can take a few weeks for HMRC to process applications, but accountants who are registered as agents with HMRC are likely to have a quicker turnaround time.  For advice on registering for VAT and setting up your invoices, please visit the Alterledger website.

The VAT advantages of a development company

Fotolia_46578927_XS home off

Property Development is a trade, where as Property Investment isn’t – renting out a residential property is a VAT exempt supply.

If you are planning significant building work, setting up a Development Company or using a building contractor might save VAT.

Assuming you employ a builder…

The VAT Rules are in VAT Notice 708 Buildings & Construction

Your builder may be able to charge you VAT at the reduced rate of 5 per cent if you are converting premises into:

  • a ‘single household dwelling’
  • a different number of ‘single household dwellings’
  • a ‘multiple occupancy dwelling’, such as bed-sits, or
  • premises intended for use solely for a ‘relevant residential purpose’

As your builder will be VAT registered, they reclaim the VAT they are charged and then charge you VAT at 5%.

If your business is property rental and you do the work yourself, you can’t take advantage of the 5% rate.

If your Development Company is VAT registered you can reclaim all the VAT.

Get your existing business or your property development company to convert the property and then sell it to another company that you own (may be an SPV)  will be a  VAT Zero Rated transaction. The other company then carries on the rental business.

steve@bicknells.net

Have you got undeclared Credit Card sales?

Kartenlesegerät, geld überweisen,  Kreditkarte, Hand

The Credit Card Sales Campaign is an opportunity to bring your tax affairs up to date if you’re an individual or business that accepts credit or debit card payments.

Who can do this

This opportunity is for you if:

  1. you accept card payments for goods or service
  2. you haven’t declared all your UK tax liabilities

Get the best terms

You need to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if you either:

  • haven’t registered with them
  • have failed to declare all your income

This is called a ‘voluntary disclosure’.

What happens if you should disclose but don’t

HMRC has details of all credit and debit card payments to UK businesses. This information is used to identify individuals and businesses that might not have paid what they owe.

Credit Card Sales Campaign Helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 9272
From outside the UK: +44 300 123 9272
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

steve@bicknells.net

TOGC issues on Business Acquisitions

Businessman hand touching M & A - merger & acquisition concept

Normally the sale of the assets of a VAT registered or VAT registerable business will be subject to VAT at the appropriate rate. A transfer of a business as a going concern for VAT purposes (TOGC) however is the sale of a business including assets which must be treated as a matter of law, as ‘neither a supply of goods nor a supply of services’ by virtue of meeting certain conditions. Where the sale meets the conditions then the supply is outside the scope of VAT and therefore VAT is not chargeable.

It is important to be aware that the TOGC rules are mandatory and not optional. So it is important to establish from the outset whether the sale is or is not a TOGC.

The main conditions are:

  • the assets must be sold as part of the transfer of a ‘business’ as a ‘going concern’
  • the assets are to be used by the purchaser with the intention of carrying on the same kind of ‘business’ as the seller (but not necessarily identical)
  • where the seller is a taxable person, the purchaser must be a taxable person already or become one as the result of the transfer
  • in respect of land which would be standard rated if it were supplied, the purchaser must notify HMRC that he has opted to tax the land by the relevant date, and must notify the seller that their option has not been disapplied by the same date
  • where only part of the ‘business’ is sold it must be capable of operating separately
  • there must not be a series of immediately consecutive transfers of ‘business’

The TOGC rules are compulsory. You cannot choose to ‘opt out’. So, it is very important that you establish from the outset whether the business is being sold as a TOGC. Incorrect treatment could result in corrective action by HMRC which may attract a penalty and or interest.

Problem areas:

  1. Gap in trading – for TOGC to apply there must be no significant gap in trading between the sale and purchase
  2. VAT registration – If the vendor is VAT registered, there can only be a VAT-free TOGC if the purchaser is registered at or before the transfer
  3. Buying part of a business – the part being bought must be capable of separate operation
  4. A series of sales – it may not be possible for one of the parties to carry on the trade
  5. Staged Sales – As long as the overall result is that of business transfer these should qualify for TOGC

steve@bicknells.net

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