The 1614D VAT Dilema Reply

As tax forms go, the 1614D to Disapply an Option to tax is probably one of the most straight forward.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/461545/vat1614d.pdf

The 1614D is used so that the seller won’t charge VAT when selling a building which has been opted to tax where the buy intends to convert to residential.

Basically it says – who are you, who is the seller and what is the property? – that’s nice and simple, what could possibly go wrong?

Its great for the purchaser as they don’t have to wait to recover the VAT.

The potential downside is for the seller, let say you originally bought the property for your business and only later decided to rent it out and Opt to tax. The issues are:

  1. Because its an exempt supply the seller can’t recover any VAT related to the sale
  2. The biggest potential problem is the Capital Good scheme which have a 10 year adjustment period, if you sell within this period you will have to pay back to HMRC some of the VAT

If you acquire or create an expensive capital asset, or already have one when you register for VAT, you may have to adjust the amount of VAT you reclaim. You do this by using the Capital Goods Scheme, which allows you to spread the initial VAT claimed over a number of years. You can reclaim more if the proportion of your taxable supplies increases, you’ll have to repay some if it decreases. Taxable supplies are the sales that you make which are standard, reduced or zero-rated.

You’ll have to use the Capital Goods Scheme if you spend £250,000 (excluding VAT) or more on:

  • buying land, a building or part of a building or civil engineering work
  • constructing a building or civil engineering work
  • refurbishing, fitting out, altering or extending a building or civil engineering work

Civil engineering work includes things like roads, bridges, golf courses, running tracks and the installation of pipes for connecting to mains services.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-capital-goods-scheme-and-capital-assets

steve@bicknells.net

 

 

 

Are Rental Property Service Charges Vatable? Reply

Residential Service Charge Accountant Hiring Now. 3D.

Within a property lease the landlord often agrees to be responsible for:

  • repairs and maintenance to the building
  • the management of repairs and maintenance
  • management of the lease
  • provision of security
  • provision of utilities
  • reception
  • insurance
  • other services

The critical factor in whether they are vatable of not is wording of the lease.

If they are additional consideration to the main supply of rent they will be treated the same as the rent, which for residential usually means they are exempt (unless its a commercial property opted to tax).

However, if the lease doesn’t specifically cover these costs then they will be standard rated for VAT!

Management Agents will be supplying the landlord not the tenants so their costs will always be standard rated unless the extra-statutory concession is applied.

If you provide services to freehold owners of dwellings your supply is taxable because there is no supply of domestic accommodation to link those services to. However this is unfair to freehold owners, especially those living on the same estate as leaseholders. To address this inequity an extra-statutory concession allows all mandatory service charges paid by occupants of dwellings toward the:

(a) upkeep of the common areas of a housing estate, such as paths, driveways and communal gardens; or

(b) upkeep of the common areas of a block of flats, such as lift maintenance, corridors, stairwells and general lounges; and

(c) general maintenance of the exterior of the block of flats or individual dwellings, such as painting, and

(d) provision of an estate warden, house manager or caretaker,

to be treated as exempt from VAT.

Where you apply the concession and treat the service charges as exempt your right to recover the associated input tax may be restricted. This may also have an impact on your eligibility to remain registered for VAT.

To read the rules in more detail see VAT Notice 742

steve@bicknells.net

 

What is an Option to Tax on Property? Reply

Office Building An office building with glass windows on a sunny day.

Opting to Tax refers to Commercial Properties and VAT.

Supplies of land and buildings, such as freehold sales, leasing or renting, are normally exempt from VAT. This means that no VAT is payable, but the person making the supply cannot normally recover any of the VAT incurred on their own expenses.

However, you can opt to tax land. For the purposes of VAT, the term ‘land’ includes any buildings or structures permanently affixed to it. You don’t need to own the land in order to opt to tax. Once you have opted to tax all the supplies you make of your interest in the land or buildings will normally be standard rated, and you will normally be able to recover any VAT you incur in making those supplies.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice-742a-opting-to-tax-land-and-buildings/vat-notice-742a-opting-to-tax-land-and-buildings

If you are buying a building for your business to use and your business is VAT registered you may be able to recover the VAT without opting to Tax.

However, most commercial landlords will opt to tax so that they can recover their VAT. They will then charge VAT to their tenants.

When you sell the building as an investment its generally the case that the buyer will want to register for VAT so that the transfer will be within the Transfer of a Going Concern (TOGC) rules to avoid getting stuck with a VAT bill.

If your buyer is a pension scheme they can register for VAT to benefit from TOGC.

If you sell to a developer who will be converting from Commercial to Residential TOGC will not apply but the developer will be able to recover the VAT as they will be developing the a Zero rated Residential Property.

It is also possible to ask for a belated Option to Tax (Section 4.2.1 Notice 742A)

HMRC will normally accept a belated notification if you provide:

  • direct documentary evidence that the decision was made at the relevant time (eg copies of correspondence with third parties referring to the option to tax)
  • evidence that output tax has been charged and accounted for and input tax claimed in accordance with the option and a responsible person (such as a director) provides a written declaration that the decision to opt was made at the relevant time and that all relevant facts have been given

HMRC might accept a belated notification in other circumstances. This will depend on the facts of your case.

The option is applied for using VAT 1614A.

steve@bicknells.net

 

 

What are the VAT rules for Serviced Accommodation? 1

Business couple in formal wear traveling

Residential Rent is an Exempt Supply for VAT, however, Serviced Accommodation isn’t, its treated as Holiday Accommodation.

Holiday accommodation includes, but is not restricted to, any house, flat, chalet, villa, beach hut, tent, caravan, or houseboat.

If you supply holiday accommodation, or a site for such accommodation, you must account for VAT at the standard rate on any charges that you make regardless of the length of occupation or description of the charges.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice-7093-hotels-and-holiday-accommodation/vat-notice-7093-hotels-and-holiday-accommodation#holiday-homes

The problem with VAT is that if you promote your serviced accommodation to the general public it will either make it 20% more expensive for them or reduce your profit!

So lets look at somethings that might help

VAT Registration

You can’t charge VAT unless you are registered for VAT and you don’t have to register until your turnover hits £83,000.

VAT taxable turnover is the total value of everything you sell that isn’t exempt from VAT.

You must register for VAT with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if it goes over the current registration threshold in a rolling 12-month period. This isn’t a fixed period like the tax year or the calendar year – it could be any period, eg the start of June to the end of May.

VAT Flat Rate Scheme

There are going to be changes to the VAT Flat Rate Scheme in April 2017 the changes are aimed mainly at low cost traders, we don’t know the full details yet.

A Low or Limited Cost Trader would spend less than 2% on gross turnover, or less than £1000 on the purchase of goods.

Assuming that the changes don’t affect Hotels and Holiday Accommodation, Flat Rate could save you VAT.

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

With the Flat Rate Scheme:

The Flat Rate for Hotels and Accommodation is 10.5%

Example

You bill a client for £1,000, adding VAT at 20% to make £1,200 in total.

You’re selling serviced accommodation, so the VAT flat rate for your business is 10.5%.

Your flat rate payment will be 10.5% of £1,200, or £126.

Separate Businesses

Provided there are commercial reasons why you should have separate businesses or companies, then each business would have the £83,000 registration threshold

The rules are set out in HMRC manuals and in this blog

https://stevejbicknell.com/2013/10/26/are-your-businesses-really-separate-for-vat-purposes/

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. This includes amounts debited from credit cards using details provided at the time of the booking. Where the cancellation charge takes the form of a retained deposit, you can reclaim any VAT already accounted for as an adjustment to your next return.

steve@bicknells.net

Common Sense VAT for Digital Services Reply

EU

Since 1st January 2015 VAT has been 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).

But now, at last, it looks like common sense will prevail for small businesses.

The European Commission is proposing a threshold of €10,000 in online sales per annum before MOSS rules would apply. Businesses trading under that threshold will be able to apply domestic VAT rules. In support of this proposal, the Commission revealed that just 0.1% of all MOSS revenue has come from returns with a declared turnover of under €10,000.

In addition to the €10k threshold, SMEs which make less than €100,000 in cross-border sales will no longer be required to provide two pieces of data to prove the place of supply of their customers. This requirement had resulted in businesses spending thousands of pounds to reprogram their e-commerce operations in order to collect trivial amounts of European VAT. The EC now says that one piece of evidence will suffice for traders of e-services. Accountingweb

Hooray for common sense!

steve@bicknells.net

Will your Flat Rate VAT bill be going up in April? Reply

omg man

The Flat Rate VAT scheme is very popular with small businesses.

The Flat Rate Scheme is designed to simplify your records of sales and purchases. It allows you to apply a fixed flat-rate percentage to your gross turnover to arrive at the VAT due.

Fixed-rate percentages vary depending on the type of business. [HMRC VAT Notice 733]

The scheme is for businesses with a turnover no more than £150,000 a year, excluding VAT.

The problem is that HMRC feel the scheme has been abused and used as a way to pay less VAT especially by businesses with virtually no costs.

A Low or Limited Cost Trader would spend less than 2% on gross turnover, or less than £1000 on the purchase of goods.

From April 2017 they will get a special 16.5% flat rate.

Here are some of the businesses likely to be affected

  • Accountancy and legal services 14.5%
  • Journalism or entertaining 12.5%
  • Computer or IT consultancy 14.5%
  • Business services not listed elsewhere 12%
  • Estate agents and property management 12%
  • Management consultancy 14%

There are lots of other VAT schemes to choose from

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

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

They will all produce different answers!

Now might be a good time to make comparisons.

steve@bicknells.net

How do you account for VAT on online sales? Reply

Online Shopping

Firstly, if you are an online trader and its not just a hobby, makesure you register and pay tax.

The criteria used to assess if an activity is a hobby or a business are:

  • The size and commerciality of the activity.
  • The frequency of the activity and transactions
  • The application of business principles.
  • Whether there is a genuine profit motive.
  • The amount of time devoted to the activities.
  • The existence of arm’s-length customers (as opposed to just selling your wares to family and friends).

You must register for VAT with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if your business’ VAT taxable turnover is more than £83,000.

So once you are VAT registered and trading online with Ebay, Amazon or other platforms how do you work out how much VAT you should account for on sales?

Let’s take an example:

Sales are £5,000

Postage £500

Online Platform Commission £500

Is your VAT able income:

a) £5,000 (Goods)

b) £5,500 (Goods plus Postage)

c) £4,500 (Goods net of Commission)

The answer is b) Goods plus Postage = Total Sales Value

Assuming its a UK customer and goods are standard rated the VAT would be £5,500/6 = £916.67 because when you sell to consumers the price is inclusive of VAT.

If your platform provider is based outside the UK but in the EU their fees will subject to ‘Reverse Charge‘ VAT.

When you buy services from suppliers in other countries, you may have to account for the VAT yourself – depending on the circumstances. This is called the ‘reverse charge’, and is also known as ‘tax shift’. Where it applies, you act as if you are both the supplier and the customer – you charge yourself the VAT and then, assuming that the service relates to VAT taxable supplies that you make, you also claim it back. So there’s no net cost to you – the two taxes cancel each other out. [HMRC]

steve@bicknells.net

 

 

Why is international VAT so complicated! Reply

Stress business woman

EU VAT is a nightmare.

Here is an example of why its complicated…

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).

Then there is is the VAT return….

Box 2 Acquisition Tax is calculated as UK VAT due on VAT free purchase of goods from other Member States, i.e. 20% x Box 9 figure, the same amount is then entered in Box 4 (as noted below by HMRC) so the net effect is Zero.

Box 9 Total EU Purchases are the value of goods bought from other EU Member States on a VAT free basis.

The following are HMRC’s instructions:

Box 2: VAT due from you (but not paid) on acquisitions from other EU countries

You need to work out the VAT due – but not yet paid by you – on goods that you buy from other EU countries, and any services directly related to those goods (such as delivery charges). Put the figure in Box 2. You may be able to reclaim this amount, and if so remember to include this figure in your total in Box 4.

Box 4: VAT reclaimable on your purchases

This is the VAT you have been charged on your purchases for use in your business. You should also include:

  • VAT due (but not paid) on goods from other EU countries and services directly related to those goods (such as delivery charges) – this is the figure you put in Box 2

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/managing/returns-accounts/completing-returns.htm#4

If you trade regularly with the EU you may be required to do Intrastat Returns

Here is a useful guide from Sage.

steve@bicknells.net

What are the VAT implications of converting commercial buildings to residential? Reply

foreman builder and construction worker with blueprint in indoor apartment

There are several issues to watch out for:

Transfer Of a Going Concern (TOGC)

Before you buy a commercial property you will need to find out if the current owner has opted to tax.

Supplies of land and buildings, such as freehold sales, leasing or renting, are normally exempt from VAT. This means that no VAT is payable, but the person making the supply cannot normally recover any of the VAT incurred on their own expenses.

However, you can opt to tax land. For the purposes of VAT, the term ‘land’ includes any buildings or structures permanently affixed to it. You don’t need to own the land in order to opt to tax. Once you have opted to tax all the supplies you make of your interest in the land or buildings will normally be standard rated, and you will normally be able to recover any VAT you incur in making those supplies. VAT Notice 742A

If an Option to Tax is in place the seller will charge VAT when they sell the property.

If the purchaser is not registered for VAT they get a very large VAT bill to pay, however, if they register for VAT or are registered for VAT before the sale takes place then its possible to use the TOGC rules to avoid having to pay VAT on the purchase.

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) – for example commercial property rental
  • 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

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 property 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

TOGC Intended for Residential Use

Schedule 10 para 6 VATA 1994 Notice 742A para 3.4

Your option to tax will not apply if you supply a building or part of a building that is not designed or adapted as a dwelling (or number of dwellings) or for a relevant residential purpose but you receive a certificate (VAT1614D) from the recipient of your supply (by the time described in paragraph 3.4.3 and paragraph 3.4.4) certifying that it is intended for use as a dwelling or number of dwellings or solely for a relevant residential purpose. This can apply where the building, or relevant part, is either intended for such use:

  • without conversion work being undertaken
  • after conversion

Conversion of Commercial to Residential for Sale – Zero Rating

VAT notice 708 (Schedule 8 Group 5 item 1 VATA 1994)

5.5.1 What ‘person converting’ means

You are a ‘person converting’ a building if, in relation to that building, you are acting as, or have, at any point in the past, acted as:

  • a developer – you physically converted, or commissioned another person to physically convert, a building (in whole or in part) that you own or have an interest in
  • a contractor or subcontractor – you provided construction services to the developer or another contractor for the conversion of the building, sub-contracting work as necessary

5.5.6 TOGC of converted developments of dwellings, relevant residential buildings

A person acquiring a residential development that has been subject to a qualifying conversion as part of a TOGC inherits ‘person converting’ status and is capable of making a zero rated first major interest grant in that building or part of it as long as:

a) a zero rated grant has not already been made of the converted building or relevant part by a previous owner (not including the grant that gives rise to the TOGC)

b) the person acquiring the building as a TOGC would suffer an unfair VAT disadvantage if its first major interest grants were treated as exempt (for example, a developer restructures its business. This entails the transfer (as a TOGC) of its entire property portfolio of newly constructed or converted qualifying buildings to an associated company, which will make first major interest grants. If these were treated as exempt, the transferee might become liable to repay input tax recovered by the original owner on development costs under the Capital Goods Scheme or partial exemption “claw back” provisions and would incur input tax restrictions on selling fees that would not be suffered by businesses in similar circumstances – we would consider this to be an unfair disadvantage)

c) that person would not obtain an unfair VAT advantage by being in a position to make zero rated supplies (for example, by recovering input tax on a refurbishment of an existing building)

A recent case suggests the rules even apply to Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO’s) and that HMO’s can also be Zero Rated

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice-708-buildings-and-construction/vat-notice-708-buildings-and-construction#zero-rating-the-sale-of-or-long-lease-in-non-residential-buildings-converted-to-residential-use

The case is Capital Focus Limited v HMRC TC05193 Appeal number TC/2015/04891.

Capital Focus purchased Tintern House in Banbury, Oxfordshire in August 1994, it was a commercial building and they intended to create one large residential building so they started work and reclaimed the VAT, however, they changed their mind and decided to create an HMO instead.

HMRC allowed the £45,000 input tax claim on the basis that it would be supply of a non-residential building converted to residential use and therefore zero-rated under Item 1(b), Group 5 of schedule 8 to the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (“VATA”)
On 22 April 2015 HMRC wrote to the Company stating that, because it had been converted for multiple occupancy, the sale of Tintern House
was not a zero-rated but an exempt supply and any input tax incurred that was directly attributable to it was not recoverable.
HMRC lost the case, here is the result..
VAT Zero HMO

Reduced Rate VAT for Conversion from Commercial to Residential

The rules are in VAT Notice 708

Using the reduced rate of 5% is useful for Residential property (exempt from VAT) but is also useful for commercial buildings where there is no option to tax in place.

Conversions into single household dwellings

A qualifying conversion includes the conversion of:

  • a property that has never been lived in, such as an office block or a barn
  • a multiple occupancy building such as a bedsit block
  • living accommodation which is not self-contained, such as a pub containing staff accommodation that is not self-contained
  • any dwelling which had previously been adapted in its entirety to another use, such as to offices or a dental practice

It does not include:

  • the creation of living accommodation that is not a ‘single household dwelling’, such as most ‘granny’ annexes or additional bedrooms at a care home, and
  • the renovation or alteration of living accommodation that had been used for other purposes without the premises being adapted, such as a flat above a shop that has been used for storage. If the living accommodation has not been lived in for two years or more, the reduced rate explained in section 8 may apply

Conversions into multiple occupancy dwellings

A qualifying conversion includes the conversion into a multiple occupancy dwelling of:

  • a single household dwelling
  • a building used for a relevant residential purpose, such as a care home, and
  • a property that has never been lived in

It does not include, for example, the creation of additional bedrooms at a dwelling consisting of bed-sits.

Conversions into premises intended for use for a relevant residential purpose

A qualifying conversion includes the conversion of:

  • a single household dwelling
  • a multiple occupancy dwelling, and
  • a property that has never been lived in

into premises that will be used solely for a relevant residential purpose.

It does not include:

  • the remodelling of an existing ‘relevant residential purpose’ building, such as a care home, and
  • any conversion where a new qualifying residential ‘home’ or ‘institution’ is not created in its entirety, such as the conversion of outbuildings into additional bedrooms for an existing care home

What services can I reduced-rate?

Other than installing goods that are not building materials, you can reduced-rate any works of repair, maintenance (such as redecoration), or improvement (such as the construction of an extension or the installation of double glazing) carried out to the fabric of the building.

You can also reduced-rate works within the immediate site of the premises being converted that are in connection with the:

  • means of providing water, power, heat or access
  • means of providing drainage or security, or
  • provision of means of waste disposal

All other services are standard-rated. For example, you must standard-rate:

  • the installation of goods that are not building materials, such as carpets and fitted bedroom furniture
  • the erection and dismantling of scaffolding
  • the hire of goods
  • landscaping
  • the provision of professional services, such as those provided by architects, surveyors, consultants and supervisors

 

steve@bicknells.net

Will I pay VAT on my membership? Reply

Exclusive Membership Badge

The VAT rules on membership fees and complex but some types of membership are VAT exempt

  • Professional Bodies
  • Trade Unions
  • Learned Societies
  • Political Parties

However, in general HMRC considers that where a subscription fee is paid to a membership body in return for benefits then it will be subject to VAT.

VAT notice 701/5 states..

Which of my activities are business activities for VAT purposes?

These include:

  • providing benefits to members in return for membership subscriptions (for members racing clubs where subscriptions finance the purchase of racehorses see Notice 700/67 Registration scheme for racehorse owners)
  • providing benefits to members in return for a separate charge
  • making supplies to non-members for a charge
  • admission to any premises for a charge
  • providing catering, social and other facilities to non-members in return for a charge

HMRC’s advice is set out in VBNB606600

The general rule is that subscriptions are consideration for a package of benefits. The liability will follow that of the various supplies being made. Therefore, you will need to apportion the subscription unless all of these supplies have the same liability.

Our historic view that membership benefits supplied in return for a subscription constitute mixed supplies that need to be apportioned rather than a single supply was taken in the case of The Automobile Association (see VBNB75960). In that case the High Court accepted the AA’s subscription charge was for a mixed supply of their magazine, the key to the AA box insurance and various other services.

However, following the decision in Card Protection Plan (see VBNB75960) we concluded that our previous approach was wrong in law. The subscriptions of a members’ club were usually consideration for a bundle of supplies, each of which is for the better enjoyment of the principal supply, and all the supplies therefore share the same VAT liability.

We did, however, accept that in some cases there were two or more supplies, each of which was an end in its own right. In those cases apportionment was the proper treatment. Where a business had incorrectly treated its supplies as mixed under the old legal understanding, we took no action and we introduced ESC 3.35 to allow non-profit making members’ clubs to continue to do so.

Normally a body will apportion its subscriptions either in relation to the costs that it incurs in making the supplies or in relation to the price at which the supplies are separately available (a market value method). However, here are no fixed rules requiring apportionment by a particular method. Any method is acceptable as long as the end result is fair and reasonable.

steve@bicknells.net