The VAT Flat Rate scheme is intended to simplify the way a business accounts for VAT and reduce the administration costs of complying with the VAT legislation. There can also be a decent VAT saving for those using the scheme.
The scheme is only open to businesses that expect their annual taxable turnover in the next 12 months to be no more than £150,000, excluding VAT. If you have clients whose turnover has reduced to this level as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, then it may be worth reconsidering the scheme.
Under the Flat Rate scheme, businesses simply pay VAT as a fixed percentage of their VAT inclusive turnover. When using the scheme, the amount of VAT paid on business expenses becomes irrelevant. This is quite different to the normal VAT accounting procedure where simply putting the VAT paid to HMRC is the difference between the VAT charged to customers and the VAT paid on purchases.
The actual percentage used depends on the type of business. There are special rules for those classed as a limited cost business who must use a flat rate of 16.5%. This will negate the benefit of joining the scheme.
In addition to the turnover limit you cannot use the scheme if:
- You left the scheme in the last 12 months,
- You committed a VAT offence in the last 12 months,
- You joined or could have joined a VAT group in the last 24 months,
- You registered for VAT as a business division in the last 24 months
- Your business is associated with another business,
- You have joined a margin or capital goods scheme.
Once you join the scheme you can continue using the scheme once your total business income does not exceed £230,000 in a 12 month period. There are some special rules if the increased turnover is temporary. There is also a first year discount for businesses in their first year of VAT registration of 1%.