Ultimate VAT Guide

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Switch from Standard VAT to the Flat Rate VAT Calculator

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How do I register for flat rate VAT?

You'll first need to check that you're eligible for the VAT Flat Rate Scheme.

If you're eligible, you can join the scheme online when you register for VAT, or submit the VAT600 FRS through one of the methods below:

BT VAT

HM Revenue and Customs

BX9 1WR

You'll receive notification that you've joined the scheme through your VAT online account, or by post if you did not apply online.

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When do I need to register for VAT?

VAT registration is mandatory when you fulfill the conditions indicated below, and you're required to register within 30 days of fulfilling any of these conditions.

  • Your VAT taxable turnover exceeds the current threshold of £85,000 (for a 12-month period ending in 2020/21). The VAT taxable turnover refers to the total value of everything that you sell that isn't exempt from VAT.
  • You expect your VAT taxable turnover to exceed £85,000 in the next 30-day period
  • Your business had a taxable turnover exceeding £85,000 over the last 12 months
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The flat rate VAT scheme explained

At first glance, VAT can seem like one more aspect of your business that adds to your administrative tedium. Yet, as a small business owner, you want to run your business in the most tax efficient way possible-and VAT is a common area where business owners are losing out.

Even if you've hired an accountant, you need to have a good grasp of the essentials.

Below, we'll dive into an aspect of VAT that business owners often raise questions about the flat rate VAT scheme. We'll run through the basics, touch on recent regulatory changes and share our answers to frequently asked questions about the scheme.

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Do I need to register for VAT?

You need to register for VAT if:

  • your VAT taxable turnover exceeds the current threshold of £85,000 (for a 12-month period ending in 2020/21). The VAT taxable turnover refers to the total value of everything that you sell that isn't exempt from VAT.
  • you expect your VAT taxable turnover to exceed £85,000 in the next 30-day period
  • your business had a taxable turnover exceeding £85,000 over the last 12 months

You need to register for VAT within 30 days of fulfilling any of these conditions.

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What are the advantages of VAT registration:?

The advantages of VAT registration are:

  • It enhances the perception of your business: Registering for VAT tends to lend credibility to your business, and makes your company appear larger and more established.
  • You can reclaim VAT: You can reclaim VAT on goods and services you've purchased from other businesses, and this can be advantageous in certain situations.
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How do I calculate flat rate VAT?

The tax you pay is calculated by multiplying your VAT flat rate with your VAT-inclusive turnover. The flat rate you use will depend on the sector your business falls under.

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Standard vs Flat Rate VAT Scheme Calculator

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How do I pay VAT?

There are various ways to pay your VAT bill.

Online or telephone banking (Faster Payments) and CHAPS payments are processed on the same day or the next working day.

Direct Debit, Bacs payments, standing order (only for businesses using the Annual Accounting Scheme or Payments on Account), online payments (by debit or corporate credit card) or payments made at your bank or building society are processed on a three day cycle.

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What are VAT Returns?

A completed VAT Return will either show how much is owed to HMRC or whether you're due a refund.

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What are the advantages vs disadvantages of VAT registration?

The advantages of VAT registration are:

  • It enhances the perception of your business: Registering for VAT tends to lend credibility to your business, and makes your company appear larger and more established.
  • You can reclaim VAT: You can reclaim VAT on goods and services you've purchased from other businesses, and this can be advantageous in certain situations.

The drawbacks of VAT registration are:

  • Administrative burden. As a VAT-registered business, there are VAT rules and record keeping requirements you'll need to comply with.
  • It makes your goods or services seem more expensive. Charging VAT can make your goods and services more expensive-and therefore less appealing, particularly if your customers or clients are not VAT-registered business, or are end consumers who aren't able to reclaim VAT.
  • You may be faced with an unexpected VAT bill. If your output VAT is higher than the input VAT, as it nearly always will be, then you need to pay the difference to HMRC. This can create cash flow issues if you're unprepared for an unexpected VAT bill.
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When do I pay VAT?

The deadline for paying HMRC submitting your VAT return online are usually the same-one calendar month and seven days after the end of an accounting period.

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VAT Calculator

Working out the VAT

With our calculator, you can work out your VAT in just a few quick clicks.

If the price doesn't include VAT:

  • Select the ‚ÄòAdd VAT' option
  • Select the rate of VAT on the slider
  • You'll obtain the gross price (inclusive of VAT) and the VAT element of the bill.

If the price includes VAT:

  • Select the ‚ÄòExclude VAT' option
  • Select the rate of VAT on the slider
  • You'll obtain the pre-VAT price (exclusive of VAT) and the VAT element of the bill.

VAT basics: What you need to know

VAT, or Value Added Tax is a consumption tax that is applied to most goods and services. While the standard rate (20%) applies in most cases, there are items-such as children's car seats and sanitary products-that are charged at the reduced rate of 5%. Using the slider on our calculator, you'll be able to calculate the VAT and gross or net prices for different VAT rates. If you're unsure about the correct rate you should apply, refer to HMRC's resource on VAT rates.

Resources:

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How do I find my VAT rate?

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How do I set up a VAT Direct Debit Payment?

You can use your VAT online account to set up a Direct Debit payment.

Do note that Direct Debit payments take at least three working days to clear. As such, you should set up the Direct Debit at least three working days before submitting your online VAT return, or the payment won't be processed in time.

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When should I charge VAT?

You should charge VAT when your business becomes VAT registered-whether the registration is mandatory or voluntary.

VAT registration is mandatory when:

  • your VAT taxable turnover exceeds the current threshold of £85,000 (for a 12-month period ending in 2020/21). The VAT taxable turnover refers to the total value of everything that you sell that isn't exempt from VAT.
  • you expect your VAT taxable turnover to exceed £85,000 in the next 30-day period
  • your business had a taxable turnover exceeding £85,000 over the last 12 months

If you're thinking about registering for VAT voluntarily, these are the main benefits and downsides you should consider:

Benefits:

  • It enhances the perception of your business
  • Able to reclaim VAT

Downsides:

  • Administrative burden
  • It makes your goods or services seem more expensive
  • You may be faced with an unexpected VAT bill
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Should I charge VAT for international/ overseas sales?

Whether or not VAT should be charged on your sales to your overseas clients all depends on what HMRC refers to as the place of supply of your services.

Generally, if your client is a business customer, the place of supply will be where the client is based but if they are a non-business customer, the place of supply will be where you are based.

For most contractors, this means that your place of supply is generally where your customer is based.

If your place of supply is in another EU country, you do not need to charge UK VAT - providing they are a registered business in their country. You will need to request their VAT registration number and display this on your invoices. It will also need to be reported to HMRC within your VAT return and a separate EC sales list.

If your place of supply is in a country other than the EU then you do not need to charge VAT as it is outside the scope of VAT entirely. No further actions are needed for this other than not including VAT on your invoices.

If you are looking to check if you need to charge VAT or need assistance with any other VAT matters, contact one of our VAT experts today.

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How do I find my VAT number?

You can locate your VAT number on the VAT registration certificate issued by HMRC. Your VAT number will contain nine digits, with the first two digits indicating the country code (‘GB' for UK businesses).

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What flat rate VAT percentage do I apply for multiple business sectors?

If your business can be classified under more than one sector because you provide different types of services or products, you'll then use the percentage that applies to the majority of your services or sales, and apply that to your total sales.

Let's say you're running a hair salon-cum-restaurant business. If 70% of your sales is derived from providing hair and beauty treatments, you'll then apply a VAT flat rate of 13% (for hairdressing and beauty treatment services) to your total turnover.

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How do I register for VAT?

You can register for VAT online through creating a VAT online account (also known as the 'Government Gateway' account). You'll need your online account to submit your VAT returns.

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