Register for VAT

VAT (Value Added Tax)

You must register for VAT with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if your business’ VAT taxable turnover is more than £82,000. HMRC may allow you exception from registration if your turnover goes above the threshold temporarily.

VAT is charged on things like:

  • business sales - eg when you sell goods and services
  • hiring or loaning goods to someone
  • selling business assets
  • commission
  • items sold to staff - eg canteen meals
  • business goods used for personal reasons
  • ‘non-sales’ like bartering, part-exchange and gifts

These are known as ‘taxable supplies’. There are different rules for importsexports and charities.

When you register, you’ll be sent a VAT registration certificate. This confirms:

  • your VAT number
  • when to submit your first VAT Return and payment
  • your ‘effective date of registration’ - this is the date you went over the threshold, or the date you asked to register if it was voluntary

You can register voluntarily if your turnover is less than £82,000, unless everything you sell is exempt. You’ll have certain responsibilities if you register for VAT.

Free digital VAT learning resources

HMRC have a number of digital products to assist businesses to meet their obligations to HMRC both accurately and on time. including webinars, videos and factsheets.
You can browse the full catalogue here.

Your VAT responsibilities

From the effective date of registration you must:

  • charge the right amount of VAT
  • pay any VAT due to HMRC
  • submit VAT Returns
  • keep VAT records and a VAT account

You can also reclaim the VAT you’ve paid on certain purchases made before you registered.

While you wait

You can’t charge or show VAT on your invoices until you get your VAT number. However, you’ll still have to pay the VAT to HMRC for this period.

You should increase your prices to allow for this and tell your customers why. Once you’ve got your VAT number you can then reissue the invoices showing the VAT.

Click here to read the government's guidance on how to charge for VAT.

Getting help with tax

For simple queries you can contact HMRC. If HMRC can’t help and you’re on a low income (up to about £380 a week), you may be able to get free tax advice. TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People offer professional help, and can assist with issues like filing in forms and what to do if you owe money to HMRC.

An accountant or tax adviser may be able to help you with your tax. Many offer services like filling in your Self Assessment tax return or providing advice if you run your own business.

Chartered accountants are qualified members of a professional body. You can get help choosing an accountant or tax advisor from the various bodies in the UK.

A legal adviser or solicitor can also help with issues like Inheritance Tax and taxes on buying and selling property. You can find a solicitor through the Law Society.

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