How can I simplify VAT in my business (and save myself money)

Special VAT accounting schemes have been available for several years but are still underused. Designed to make compliance easier, there are several schemes available. Here we look at one particularly suitable for small businesses, the Flat-rate VAT scheme (FRS).

The objective of the scheme is to reduce the cost of VAT compliance. It does this by applying a fixed percentage to gross income, which builds in an allowance for deemed input tax, thus avoiding the need for detailed records of purchases and expenses. Invoices are still issued and received as normal. It is just the VAT accounting which is simplified.

FRS is available to businesses that expect their VAT exclusive taxable turnover (excluding expected sales of capital assets) in the next 12 months to be no more than £150,000. As with the other schemes, there is a tolerance threshold meaning businesses using the scheme can continue to do so until their taxable turnover increases to £230,000.

As the fixed percentage applies to all income, the largest advantage is to eligible businesses making only standard rated supplies. Although the fixed rate is designed to allow for typical zero-rated and exempt supplies by the type of business (as well as to give a set credit for input tax), users may be disadvantaged if they make a lot of that type of supply. It is always worth comparing the scheme against normal VAT accounting first, to ensure there is a benefit.

A table of FRS rates is available from HMRC, which is usually only changed if there is a VAT rate change. It is important for the user to ensure their business has the correct classification. If their activity includes supplies in 2 or more sectors, the percentage to be used is that appropriate to the main activity as measured by expected turnover in the year ahead. A 1% discount is available in the first year of registration.

Joining the scheme is by completing an application form online (if the business used HMRC's online services to register for VAT) or by downloading the form and posting it to HMRC.

Please Contact Martin Southern at Morris Crocker Chartered Accountants on tel 023 9248 4356 or email mjs@morriscrocker.co.uk if you are considering registering for this scheme and would like further advice.

Martin Southern
Morris Crocker Chartered Accountants