Making Tax Digital will see the end of VAT Returns Reply

Whilst we know that due to the election Making Tax Digital was dropped from the Finance Bill, we also know HMRC has said it will be back as soon as the elections are over!

The plan is that by 2019 VAT returns will be abolished for businesses including the Self Employed, Landlords and Partnerships.

But don’t start celebration too soon, they are being abolished because we will be providing more information each quarter online to HMRC.

Interestingly HMRC say they may be able to accept spreadsheets if they meet specific criteria, but realistically, surely everyone should now be using online accounting software. DIY spreadsheets are not the best way to keep your accounts and there is a high risk of error.

Why create your own spreadsheet when you can get software like Sage One Start for £6/mth or you might get an even better deal if you ask a Sage One Accountant.

So what is the expected timetable for Making Tax Digital

  • April 2018 – quarterly reporting for income tax purposes for unincorporated businesses with a turnover over £85,000
  • April 2019 – quarterly reporting for both incorporated and unincorporated businesses for income tax and VAT
  • April 2020 – quarterly reporting for corporation tax purposes

2018 is just the beginning as Sage explain …

What Making Tax Digital really means

  • All self-employed individuals, landlords and incorporated entities with business income over £10,000 will be required to keep digital records of all their income and expenditure and submit these records electronically to HMRC. Those in employment who have secondary income of more than £10,000 per year through self-employment or property will also be affected.
  • HMRC will not provide you with the tools for digital record keeping and submission. These will be offered through commercial software providers.
  • Those affected have the option to make the electronic submission in collaboration with their accountant or bookkeeper or can do this on their own.
  • Updates to HMRC will need to be made at least quarterly, taxpayers will have an option to pay tax based on their quarterly submissions, if they wish.
  • Any activity at the end of the year must be concluded and sent either by ten months after the last day of the accounting period, or by 31st January, whichever is sooner.

http://www.sage.co.uk/business-advice/legislation/making-tax-digital

The truth is, we don’t know exactly what the rules will be until the bill is drafted which won’t be till after the election, but what we do know is that big changes are coming!

steve@bicknells.net

Do you have to charge VAT when you buy things for clients? 1

When you buy things for your client on their behalf the items could be excluded from your VAT calculations if they are Disbursements

To treat a payment as a disbursement all of the following must apply:

  • you paid the supplier on your customer’s behalf and acted as the agent of your customer
  • your customer received, used or had the benefit of the goods or services you paid for on their behalf
  • it was your customer’s responsibility to pay for the goods or services, not yours
  • you had permission from your customer to make the payment
  • your customer knew that the goods or services were from another supplier, not from you
  • you show the costs separately on your invoice
  • you pass on the exact amount of each cost to your customer when you invoice them
  • the goods and services you paid for are in addition to the cost of your own services

It’s usually only an advantage to treat a payment as a disbursement if the supplier didn’t charge VAT on it, or if your customer can’t reclaim the VAT.

An example of an invoice showing disbursements and recharges

A website design consultant based in London does a week’s work for a client in Edinburgh. The consultant visits the client’s premises at the start of the week to discuss the project. The consultant also agrees to purchase a website hosting package from an Internet service provider on behalf of the client.

The consultant and the client agree the following fees:

Activity Fee
Consultant’s work £2,500 plus VAT
Consultant’s travelling expenses £300
Website hosting package purchased on the client’s behalf £150

The £300 travel cost that the consultant recharges to the client is not a disbursement so the consultant must charge VAT on it. But the cost of the website hosting package is a disbursement and can be excluded from the VAT calculation, because:

  • it was purchased for the use of the client
  • the client agreed that the consultant would arrange and pay for it on their behalf – this means the consultant agreed to act as the client’s agent
  • the consultant passed the whole £150 charge on to the client, without adding anything, as a separate item on the invoice
  • it was the client’s responsibility to pay for the goods
  • the consultant had permission from his client to make the payment
  • the client knew the web hosting package was from another supplier and not from the consultant
  • the consultant showed the costs separately in the invoice
  • the web hosting package paid for by the consultant is additional to the other services being billed to the client

The consultant’s invoice to their client for this work might include the following items:

  • design services – £2,500
  • travelling expenses – £300
  • amount on which VAT is due – £2,800
  • VAT at 20% – £560
  • disbursements – £150
  • total including VAT – £3510

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? Reply

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

How do you leave the Flat Rate Scheme? 1

Businesswoman Leaving Job vector

In the next few weeks and months many small businesses will leave the VAT Flat Rate Scheme.

The reason why Flat Rate is going see an exodus is because of Low or Limited cost traders will see their Flat Rate increased to 16.5% in April.

So for example

If your sales are £5,000, the VAT is £1,000, total £6,000 x 16.5% = £990 VAT payable, so HMRC have let you keep £10!

It is highly likely that almost every trader will have input tax higher than £10 so therefore there is no point in being in the Flat Rate Scheme.

How to leave

You can choose to leave the scheme at any time.

To leave, write to HMRC and they will confirm your leaving date.

HM Revenue and Customs
Imperial House
77 Victoria Street
Grimsby
Lincolnshire
DN31 1DB

Ask your accountant if you need help.

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