TOMS is the Tour Operators Margin Scheme (VAT Notice 709/5).
It is a special scheme for businesses that buy-in and re-sell travel, accommodation and certain other services (see paragraph 2.9) as a principal or undisclosed agent (that is, acting in your own name).
TOMS does not apply to:
# supplies you have arranged as a disclosed agent/intermediary and your commission is readily identifiable (see paragraphs 2.14 and 6.7)
# in-house or agency supplies you make which are not packaged/supplied with margin scheme supplies (see paragraphs 2.12 and 2.13)
# supplies you make to business customers for subsequent resale by them (that is, wholesale supplies), or
# supplies that are incidental to your other supplies (see paragraph 3.6)
If you are registered for VAT, you must normally account for tax on the full selling price of your supplies, but you can reclaim the VAT charged on purchases (subject to the normal rules).
Under the TOMS, you cannot reclaim any UK or EC VAT charged on the travel services and goods you buy-in and re-supply – the tax on such goods or services is accounted for in the relevant Member State by the providers of those services (hotels, airlines and so on).
However, as a tour operator based in the UK, you only account for VAT on the margin you make on your margin scheme supplies (see paragraph 2.7), that is, the difference between the amount you receive from your customer (including any amounts paid on behalf of your customer by third parties) and the amount you pay your suppliers.
A margin scheme supply is defined in law (see paragraph 1.2) as a ‘designated travel service’.
This means it is a supply of goods or services which is:
bought in from another person and re-supplied without material alteration or further processing, and
supplied by a tour operator from an establishment in the UK, for the direct benefit of a traveller – see paragraph 2.8
The following are always margin scheme supplies:
# passenger transport
# hire of a means of transport
# trips or excursions
# services of tour guides
# use of special lounges at airports
The reason why this would be useful for Serviced Accommodation is because often its done on Rent to Rent basis and the landlord supplies Residential Accommodation (which exempt from VAT), Serviced Accommodation is Vatable (if you cross the £85k threshold), so the VAT bill would be lower using TOMS. However, its not like a normal tour operator, normally they would buy in holiday accommodation not residential accommodation!
So before using TOMS you should get prior approval from HMRC after full disclosure of all the facts.