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This is the Finance Act 2017 version of this article. It is relevant for candidates sitting the Taxation – United Kingdom (TX-UK) (F6) exam in the period 1 June 2018 to 31 March 2019. Candidates sitting TX-UK (F6) after 31 March 2019 should refer to the Finance Act 2018 version of this article (to be published on the ACCA website in 2019).

From the September 2018 session, a new naming convention is being introduced for all of the exams in the ACCA Qualification, so from that session, the name of the exam will be Taxation – United Kingdom (TX-UK). June 2018 is the first session of a new exam year for tax, when the exam name continues to be F6 Taxation (UK). Since this name change takes place during the validity of this article, TX-UK (F6) has been used throughout.

Standard rate of value added tax (VAT)

The standard rate of VAT is currently 20%.

Example 1
Zoe is in the process of completing her VAT return for the quarter ended 31 March 2018. The following information is available:

  • Sales invoices totalling £128,000 were issued in respect of standard rated sales.
  • Standard rated expenses amounted to £24,800.
  • On 15 February 2018, Zoe purchased machinery at a cost of £24,150. This figure is inclusive of VAT.

Unless stated otherwise all of the above figures are exclusive of VAT.

VAT Return – Quarter ended 31 March 2018

 ££ 
Output VAT   
Sales (128,000 x 20%) 25,600 
    
Input VAT   
Expenses
(24,800 x 20%)
4,960  
Machinery
(24,150 x 20/120)
4,025  
  (8,985) 
  16,615 


VAT registration

A business making taxable supplies must register for VAT if during the previous 12 months the value of taxable supplies exceeds £85,000. However, VAT registration is not required if taxable supplies in the following 12 months will not exceed £83,000. These figures are exclusive of VAT. Remember that both standard rated and zero-rated supplies are taxable supplies.

Example 2
Albert commenced trading on 1 January 2017. His sales have been as follows:

 Standard
rated £
Zero-
rated £
 
2017   
January3,2000 
February2,8000 
March3,3000 
April5,100600 
May2,7000 
June3,700400 
July3,900200 
August5,500100 
September4,3000 
October13,1000 
November6,900700 
December8,200300 
2018   
January8,800900 
February16,5001,200 


  • Albert will become liable to compulsory VAT registration when his taxable supplies during any 12-month period exceed £85,000.
  • This will happen on 28 February 2018 when taxable supplies will amount to £86,400 (3,300 + 5,700 + 2,700 + 4,100 + 4,100 + 5,600 + 4,300 + 13,100 + 7,600 + 8,500 + 9,700 + 17,700).
  • Albert will have to notify HM Revenue and Customs by 30 March 2018, being 30 days after the end of the period.
  • Registration is required from the end of the month following the month in which the limit is exceeded, so Albert will be registered from 1 April 2018 or from an agreed earlier date.


A business must also register for VAT if there are reasonable grounds to believe that taxable supplies will exceed £85,000 during the following 30 days. Again the figure is exclusive of VAT.

Example 3
Bee commenced trading on 1 October 2017. Her sales have been as follows:

  £ 
2017October4,600 
 November5,400 
 December23,900 
2018January97,700 


Bee’s sales are all standard rated.

On 1 January 2018, Bee realised that her sales for January 2018 were going to exceed £95,000, and therefore immediately registered for VAT.

  • Businesses must register for VAT if at any time they expect their taxable supplies for the following 30-day period to exceed £85,000.
  • Bee realised that her taxable supplies for January 2018 were going to be at least £95,000. She was therefore liable to register from 1 January 2018, being the start of the 30-day period.
  • Bee had to notify HM Revenue and Customs by 30 January 2018, being 30 days from the date that the expectation arose.


If a business continues to trade after the date that it should have registered for VAT, then output VAT will still be due from this date.

It is important that you appreciate the distinction between making standard rated supplies, zero-rated supplies and exempt supplies. Only standard rated supplies and zero-rated supplies are taxable supplies.

Example 4
Cathy will commence trading in the near future. She operates a small aeroplane, and is considering three alternative types of business. These are (1) training, in which case all sales will be standard rated for VAT, (2) transport, in which case all sales will be zero-rated for VAT, and (3) an air ambulance service, in which case all sales will be exempt from VAT.

For each alternative, Cathy’s sales will be £80,000 per month (exclusive of VAT), and standard rated expenses will be £15,000 per month (inclusive of VAT).
 

Standard rated supplies

  • Cathy will be required to register for VAT because she is making taxable supplies.
  • Output VAT of £16,000 (80,000 x 20%) per month will be due, and input VAT of £2,500 (15,000 x 20/120) per month will be recoverable.


Zero-rated supplies

  • Cathy can apply for exemption from registration for VAT because she is making zero-rated supplies, otherwise she should still register as these are taxable supplies.
  • Output VAT will not be due, but input VAT of £2,500 per month will be recoverable.


Exempt supplies

  • Cathy will not be required or permitted to register for VAT because she will not be making taxable supplies.
  • Output VAT will not be due and no input VAT will be recoverable.

Voluntary VAT registration

A business may decide to voluntarily register for VAT where taxable supplies are below the £85,000 registration limit, or where it is possible to apply for exemption. This will be beneficial when:

  • The business makes zero-rated supplies. As seen in example 4, output VAT will not be due but input VAT will be recoverable.
  • The business makes supplies to VAT registered customers. Input VAT will be reclaimed, and it should be possible to charge output VAT on top of the pre-registration selling price. This is because the output VAT will be recoverable by the customers.


However, it will probably not be beneficial to voluntarily register for VAT where customers are members of the general public, since such customers cannot recover the output VAT charged. If selling prices cannot be increased, the output VAT will become an additional cost for the business.

Example 5
Continuing with example 3, assume that Bee’s sales are all made to VAT registered businesses, and that input VAT for the period 1 October to 31 December 2017 was £12,400. This input VAT would not be recoverable were Bee to register for VAT on 1 January 2018.

  • Bee’s sales are all to VAT registered businesses, so output VAT can be passed on to customers.
  • Her revenue would therefore not have altered if she had voluntarily registered for VAT on 1 October 2017.
  • It would therefore have been beneficial for Bee to have voluntarily registered for VAT on 1 October 2017 because additional input VAT of £12,400 would have been recovered.


Whether or not output VAT can be passed on to customers is also an important factor when deciding whether to remain below the VAT registration limit, or whether it is beneficial to accept additional work which results in the limit being exceeded.

Example 6
Danny has been in business for several years. All of his sales are standard rated and are to members of the general public. He is not registered for VAT.

At present, Danny’s annual sales are £82,500. He is planning to put up his prices, and this will increase annual sales to £88,000. There is no further scope for any price increases. Danny’s standard rated expenses are £15,700 per year (inclusive of VAT).

  • Prior to putting up his prices, Danny’s net profit is £66,800 (82,500 – 15,700).
  • If Danny puts up his prices, then he will exceed the VAT registration limit of £85,000, and will have to register for VAT.
  • Output VAT will have to be absorbed by Danny because sales are to the general public and there is no further scope for price increases.
  • The revised annual net profit will be:
 £ 
Income (88,000 x 100/120)73,333 
Expenses (15,700 x 100/120)(13,083) 
Net profit60,250 


  • This is a decrease in net profit of £6,550 (66,800 – 60,250), and so it is not beneficial for Danny to put up his prices.

Pre-registration input VAT

Input VAT incurred prior to registration can be recovered in certain circumstances.

Example 7
Elisa commenced trading on 1 January 2018 and registered for VAT on 1 April 2018. She had the following inputs for the period 1 January to 31 March 2018:

 January
£
February
£
March
£
 
Goods purchased3,40014,20026,400 
Advertising services2,6003,0003,600 
Non-current assets0
0
64,000 


On 1 April 2018, Elisa had an inventory of goods which had cost £13,800. The non-current assets were not used until after Elisa registered for VAT on 1 April 2018.

The above figures are all exclusive of VAT.

  • Input VAT of £2,760 (13,800 x 20%) can be recovered on the inventory at 1 April 2018.
  • The inventory was not acquired more than four years prior to registration, nor was it sold or consumed prior to registration. The goods must have been acquired for business purposes.
  • The same principle applies to non-current assets, so input VAT of £12,800 (64,000 x 20%) can be recovered on the non-current assets purchased during March 2018.
  • Input VAT of £1,840 ((2,600 + 3,000 + 3,600) x 20%) can be recovered on the advertising services incurred from 1 January to 31 March 2018.
  • This is because the services were not supplied more than six months prior to registration. The services must have been supplied for business purposes.
  • The total input VAT recovery is £17,400 (2,760 + 12,800 + 1,840).

VAT deregistration

A business stops being liable to VAT registration when it ceases to make taxable supplies. HM Revenue and Customs must be notified within 30 days, and the business will then be deregistered from the date of cessation or from an agreed later date. 

A business can also request voluntarily VAT deregistration.

There is a deemed supply of business assets such as plant, equipment and inventory when a business ceases to be registered for VAT. 

However, the transfer of a business as a going concern does not normally give rise to any VAT implications.

Example 8
Fang is registered for VAT but intends to cease trading on 31 March 2018. On the cessation of trading, Fang can either sell his non-current assets and inventory on a piecemeal basis to individual purchasers, or he can sell his entire business as a going concern to a single purchaser.
 

Sale of assets on a piecemeal basis

  • Upon the cessation of trading, Fang will cease to make taxable supplies so his VAT registration will be cancelled on 31 March 2018 or an agreed later date.
  • He will have to notify HM revenue and Customs by 30 April 2018, being 30 days after the date of cessation.
  • Output VAT will be due in respect of non-current assets and inventory on hand at 31 March 2018 on which input VAT has been claimed (although output VAT is not due if it totals less than £1,000).


Sale of business as a going concern

  • If the purchaser is already registered for VAT, then Fang’s VAT registration will be cancelled as above.
  • If the purchaser is not registered for VAT, then they can take over Fang’s VAT registration, though from a commercial point of view this may be inadvisable.
  • A sale of a business as a going concern is not treated as a taxable supply, and therefore output VAT is not due.

Group VAT registration

Two or more companies can register as a group for VAT purposes if they are under common control (such as a parent company and its subsidiary companies) and each of them is resident in the UK.

A VAT group is treated for VAT purposes as if it was a single company registered for VAT on its own. Group VAT registration is made in the name of a representative member, and this company is then responsible for completing and submitting a single VAT return and paying VAT on behalf of the group. However, all the companies in the VAT group remain jointly and severally liable for any VAT liabilities.

Example 9
Yung Ltd and its two 100% subsidiaries are considering registering as a group for VAT purposes.

  • The advantage of group VAT registration is that there will be no need to account for VAT on goods and services supplied between group members. Such supplies are simply ignored for VAT purposes.
  • It will also only be necessary to complete one VAT return for the whole group, so there should be a saving in administrative costs.

The tax point

It is very important to correctly identify the date of supply or tax point, as this determines when output VAT will be due.

Example 10
Explain the VAT rules which determine the tax point in respect of (1) a supply of goods, and (2) a supply of services.

  • The basic tax point for goods is the date that they are made available to the customer.
  • The basic tax point for services is the date that they are completed.
  • If an invoice is issued within 14 days of the basic tax point, the invoice date will usually replace that given above.
  • If an invoice is issued or payment received before the basic tax point, then this becomes the actual tax point.


With the supply of services there may be more than one tax point.

Example 11
Denzil is a self-employed printer who makes standard rated supplies. For a typical printing contract he receives a 10% deposit at the time that the customer makes the order. The order normally takes 14 days to complete, and Denzil issues the sales invoice three to five days after completion. Some customers pay immediately upon receiving the sales invoice, but many do not pay for up to two months.

  • The tax point for each 10% deposit is the date that it is received.
  • Invoices are issued within 14 days of the basic tax point (the date of completion), so the invoice date is the tax point for the balance of the contract price.

Output VAT and input VAT

There are several important points regarding output VAT and input VAT which should be remembered:

  • For VAT purposes there is no distinction between revenue and capital items as there is for income tax and corporation tax.
  • Output VAT is charged on the actual amount received where a discount is offered for prompt payment. The supplier therefore has to either provide details of the potential discount on the sales invoice, or to issue a subsequent credit note for the discount.
  • Relief for an impairment loss is only available if the claim is made more than six months from the time that payment was due and the debt has been written off in the business’s books.
  • Input VAT cannot be recovered in respect of business entertainment (unless it relates to the cost of entertaining overseas customers) or the purchase of a motor car (unless the car is used 100% for business purposes).
  • Output VAT is charged where goods are taken from a business for non-business purposes, and similarly where services are used for non-business purposes.
  • An apportionment is made where goods or services are used partly for business purposes and partly for private purposes.


Example 12
Gwen is in the process of completing her VAT return for the quarter ended 31 March 2018. The following information is available:

  • Cash sales amounted to £50,400, of which £46,200 was in respect of standard rated sales and £4,200 was in respect of zero-rated sales. All of these sales were to non-VAT registered customers.
  • Sales invoices totalling £128,000 were issued in respect of credit sales to VAT registered customers. These sales were all standard rated, and none of these customers were offered a discount for prompt payment.
  • On 20 February 2018, a credit sales invoice for £7,400 was issued in respect of a standard rated supply to a VAT registered customer. To encourage this previously late paying customer to pay promptly, Gwen offered a 10% discount for payment within 14 days of the date of the sales invoice. The customer paid within the 14-day period.
  • Standard rated materials amounted to £32,400, of which £600 were taken by Gwen for her personal use.
  • Standard rated expenses amounted to £24,800. This includes £1,200 for entertaining UK customers.
  • On 15 March 2018, Gwen sold a motor car for £9,600, and purchased a new motor car at a cost of £16,800. Both motor cars were used for business and private mileage, but no fuel was provided for private mileage. These figures are inclusive of VAT where applicable.
  • On 28 March 2018, Gwen sold machinery for £3,600, and purchased new machinery at a cost of £21,600. She paid for the new machinery on this date, but did not take delivery or receive an invoice until 6 April 2018. These figures are inclusive of VAT where applicable.
  • On 31 March 2018, Gwen wrote off impairment losses in respect of three invoices which were due for payment on 15 August 2017, 15 September 2017 and 15 October 2017 respectively. The amount of output VAT originally paid in respect of each invoice was £340.
  • During the quarter ended 31 March 2018, £600 was spent on mobile telephone calls, of which 40% relates to private calls.


Unless stated otherwise all of the above figures are exclusive of VAT.

VAT Return – Quarter ended 31 March 2018

  £ 
Output VAT   
Cash sales
(46,200 x 20%)
 9,240 
Credit sales
(128,000 x 20%)
 25,600 
Discounted sale
(7,400 x 90% x 20%)
 1,332 
Motor car 0 
Machinery
(3,600 x 20/120)
 600 
Goods for personal use
(600 x 20%)
 120 


  £ 
Input VAT   
Materials
(32,400 x 20%)
 (6,480) 
Expenses
((24,800 – 1,200)
x 20%)
 (4,720) 
Motor car 0 
Machinery
(21,600 x 20/120)
 (3,600) 
Impairment losses
(340 + 340)
 (680) 
Telephone
(600 x 60% x 20%)
 
(72)
 
  21,340 


  • If the late paying customer had not paid within the 14-day period, then output VAT on the discounted sale would have been £1,480 (7,400 at 20%).
  • Input VAT would not have been recovered in respect of the motor car sold because it was not used exclusively for business purposes. Therefore, output VAT is not due on the disposal. Similarly, input VAT cannot be recovered in respect of purchase of the new motor car.
  • Output VAT is charged on the materials which Gwen has taken out from the business for her personal use.
  • Input VAT on business entertainment is not recoverable unless it relates to the cost of entertaining overseas customers.
  • Gwen can recover the input VAT in respect of the new machinery purchased in the quarter ended 31 March 2018 because the actual tax point was the date that the machinery was paid for.
  • Relief for an impairment loss is not given until six months from the time that payment is due. Therefore, relief can only be claimed in respect of the invoices due for payment on 15 August 2017 and 15 September 2017.
  • An apportionment is made where a service such as the use of a telephone is partly for business purposes and partly for private purposes.

Refunds

The refund of VAT that has been overpaid is normally subject to a four-year time limit.

Example 13
Hedge Ltd is completing its VAT return for the quarter ended 31 March 2018. The company has discovered that it has not been claiming for the input VAT of £35 that it has paid each quarter for the rental of coffee machines since 1 January 2008.

  • Claims for the refund of VAT are subject to a four-year time limit.
  • In addition to the input VAT incurred during the quarter ended 31 March 2018, Hedge Ltd can also claim for the input VAT incurred during the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017.
  • The total amount of input VAT refunded on the VAT return for the quarter ended 31 March 2018 will therefore be £595 (35 x 17).

Goods supplied free of charge

When goods are supplied free of charge, then output VAT must normally be accounted for on the cost of the goods. However, there is an exemption for the gift of goods where the cost of the gifts does not exceed £50 per customer over a 12-month period.

Free samples given to customers are not treated as a supply of goods for VAT purposes, so no output VAT will be due.

Motor expenses

Provided there is some business use, the full amount of input VAT can be reclaimed in respect of repairs.

Where fuel is provided, then all the input VAT (for both private and business mileage) can be recovered, but the private use element is then normally accounted for by way of an output VAT scale charge. The scale charge can apply to sole traders, partners, employees or directors. The scale charge will be given to you in the exam if required.

Example 14
Vanessa is self-employed, and has a motor car which is used 70% for business mileage. During the quarter ended 31 March 2018, Vanessa spent £1,128 on repairs to the motor car and £984 on fuel for both business and private mileage. The relevant quarterly scale charge is £492. All figures are inclusive of VAT.

Vanessa will include the following entries on her VAT return for the quarter ended 31 March 2018:

 £ 
Output VAT
Fuel scale charge
(492 x 20/120)


82
 
Input VAT
Motor repairs (1,128 x 20/120)
Fuel (984 x 20/120)

188
164
 


However, if an employee or director is charged the full cost for the private fuel provided, output VAT will instead be calculated on this charge to the employee or director.

Example 15
Ivy Ltd provides one of its directors with a company motor car which is used for both business and private mileage. For the quarter ended 31 March 2018 the total cost of petrol was £720, with the director being charged £216 for the private use element. Both figures are inclusive of VAT.

Ivy Ltd will include the following entries on its VAT return for the quarter ended 31 March 2018:

 £ 
Output VAT
Charge to director
(216 x 20/120)


36
 
Input VAT
Fuel (720 x 20/120)

120
 


Where a leased motor car is available for private use, then 50% of input VAT on leasing costs is non-deductible.

Example 16
During the quarter ended 31 March 2018, Jimi, a sole trader, leased a motor car at a cost of £960 (inclusive of VAT). The motor car is used by Jimi and 70% of the mileage is for private journeys.

The motor car is available for private use, so £80 (960 x 20/120 x 50%) of the input VAT is non-deductible.

The second part of the article will cover VAT returns, VAT invoices, penalties, overseas aspects of VAT and special VAT schemes. It also includes a test of your understanding.

Written by a member of the TX-UK (F6) examining team

Last updated: 19 Feb 2018