An Introduction to VAT

VAT can be a confusing concept to grasp if you have never needed to pay VAT before. Nonetheless, being VAT registered can bring with it lots of advantages concerning your finances. Here is a brief introduction on VAT with some answers to questions you may have on the subject.

VAT is a tax which is added to the majority of services and goods. It is something you must pay if you are a business or merely an individual. You pay it on a range of things from bills to clothes. For companies who make over £85,000 a year, they will need to add VAT to their goods and services’ costs. Businesses must register for VAT if they turn over more than this.

Once registered, a business will need to charge VAT on the goods and services which they sell and offer. Companies will also need to fill in a return every three months. This will include information like how much VAT their business has charged as well as how much their business has paid.

Businesses will have to pay outstanding amounts of VAT if they have charged more than they have paid. In contrast, companies are able to claim back VAT money from HMRC if they have paid too much VAT than they have charged.

VAT rates in the UK are 20%. That is the standard rate. Mobility aids and children’s car seats are 5%, and most food, male razors, children’s clothing and books are 0%. Health, financial insurance and most sports services are exempt from VAT too. Find out more about on different types of VAT.

Sole traders and freelancers must also pay VAT if their turnover annually will exceed the £85,000 threshold. The VAT will be registered in their name unlike businesses, and they must ensure always to keep records of the VAT they are charging customers.

There are a few VAT schemes to consider when applying for VAT, so it is important to do your research to discover which one is right for you. There is standard accounting, which is the common one, the Flat Rate for businesses which turnover less than £150,000 per year, as well as Annual Accounting for a turnover of less than £1.35 million and cash accounting which is the same threshold but for small businesses.

Advantages of VAT are that you can reclaim VAT that is paid on top of things bought for your business, such as phones, laptops and office equipment. You can register for VAT even if you do not earn the £85,000 per year yet. This will mean you won’t have to bother looking out for the threshold when you hit that sum and owe HMRC a large lump sum.

To register for VAT, you will need to go to the gov.uk site. You will need things like a tax reference, bank details of your business and company number/address. After this, you will gain your VAT certificate with details of your VAT.