Small business VAT scheme

If you are a registered VAT trader and your present turnover is below £150,000 you may be advised to take a look at the VAT Flat Rate Scheme (FRS).

FRS users pay VAT as a fixed percentage of their total sales including VAT. You still add 20% VAT to your invoices but you cannot reclaim VAT on purchases or expenses paid.

The flat rate that you apply depends on the business sector in which you trade. Rates vary from 5% to 14.5%.

Benefits of using the Flat Rate Scheme

Using the Flat Rate Scheme can save you time and smooth your cash flow. It offers these benefits:

  • You don’t have to record the VAT that you charge on every sale and purchase, as you do with standard VAT accounting. This can mean you spending less time on the books, and more time on your business. You do need to show VAT separately on your invoices, just as you do for normal VAT accounting
  • If you are in your first year of VAT registration you get a one per cent reduction in your flat rate percentage until the day before the first anniversary you became VAT registered
  • You no longer have to work out what VAT on purchases you can and can’t reclaim
  • With less chance of mistakes, you have fewer worries about getting your VAT right
  • You always know what percentage of your takings you will have to pay to HMRC

Potential disadvantages of using the Flat Rate Scheme

The flat rate percentages are calculated in a way that takes into account zero-rated and exempt sales. They also contain an allowance for the VAT you spend on your purchases. So the VAT Flat Rate Scheme might not be right for your business if:

  • You buy mostly standard-rated items, as you cannot generally reclaim any VAT on your purchases
  • You regularly receive a VAT repayment under standard VAT accounting
  • You make a lot of zero-rated or exempt sales

It is well worth crunching the numbers to see if a switch to FRS would be advantageous. It is possible that using the FRS would save you money as well as time.

3rd July 2014

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