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VAT Flat Rate Scheme


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The VAT flat rate scheme is designed to make it simpler and quicker for small businesses to complete their VAT return.

This is because VAT payable to HMRC is calculated as a particular percentage of the gross turnover of the business and not as the difference between VAT on individual sales and purchases. In particular there is no need to record the VAT incurred on most purchases and determine whether it is reclaimable or not, so there is less chance of error. The amount of VAT charged to customers remains the same whether using the flat rate scheme or not.

However, some business will pay less VAT by using the scheme and some may pay more by using it as the percentages used are based on the average VAT payable by particular trade sectors. It is important to calculate the financial effect before applying to use the scheme.

The Flat Rate Scheme Calculation

These are the steps in the calculation...

  • The output VAT for a VAT return is established by multiplying the VAT-inclusive turnover by a fixed percentage which is determined by the sector in which the business operates. This goes in Box 1 on the return.
  • All turnover is included in the taxable supplies it has made, whether standard, reduced, zero rated or even exempt and it is the gross turnover.This figure goes into Box 6.
  • Usually no VAT can be reclaimed on purchases but there are exceptions for any VAT on purchases before the business was registered and VAT and on a single capital asset that costs over 2000 inclusive of VAT can be reclaimed. The VAT on these goes in Box 4 as usual and the net amount of the purchase in Box 7.

So if for example your gross turnover comes to 20,000 and the percentage for the sector is 10%, the VAT due is 2000. If you purchased a capital asset for 3,357 including 500 of VAT, then the VAT payment due would be 1500.

To qualify to join the scheme...

  • A business must have a taxable turnover, excluding VAT, of no more than 150,000 a year. The taxable turnover is the total value of supplies or sales made by the business that are liable to a VAT whether at standard, reduced or zero rates, but excluding any expected sales of capital assets.
  • A business must also have a total turnover, including VAT, of no more than 187,500 in a year. Exempt and non-business income is added in as well to arrive at this figure, but not sales of capital assets.
  • A business must not already use the second hand goods, the tour operators or retail schemes.
  • The business must not be required to use the capital goods scheme for certain capital items.
  • A business must not have been found guilty of a VAT offence in the past year or be associated with another business or registered as part of a VAT group in the past 2 years.

A business must apply to join the flat rate VAT scheme and can leave whenever it chooses by informing HMRC in writing.

The Business Sector Flat Rates

Different business sectors must use their own flat rate.

A business must choose its sector on the grounds that it most closely describes its main trading activities. If the trading mix changes, so say the majority of the turnover comes from supplying restaurant meals rather than alcoholic drinks the trade sector to be used will change from "Pubs" (5.5%) to "Catering Services" (12%). The change in sector should be made from the start of the VAT period that contains the anniversary of joining the scheme.

It is advisable to set out in writing why you made the selection of trade sector.

About the Author

Jonathan Amponsah BSc FCCA is a UK Tax Expert and the founding partner of A M P Associates A specialist firm of chartered certified accountants and tax advisers based in London and Surrey. Jonathan advises on a wide range of business and tax issues and he is recognized for his proactive and innovative approach to taxation.

Jonathan can be contacted on 0845 009 8845 or

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-05-09 00:48:42 in Tax Articles

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