Limited cost traders
The VAT flat rate scheme aims to simplify the tax affairs of smaller businesses by allowing them to work out the VAT that they pay over to HMRC by applying a flat rate percentage to their VAT-inclusive turnover, rather than working out the difference between the VAT that they have charged and the VAT that they have incurred.
Prior to 1 April 2017 the flat rate percentage depended only on the sector in which the business operated. From 1 April onwards it is also necessary to work out whether the business is a ‘limited cost trader’. This is a business that spends less than 2% of its VAT inclusive turnover on relevant goods or one that spends more than 2% of its turnover but less than £1,000 per year on such goods.
For periods of less than one year, the £1,000 figure is proportionately reduced and thus equates to £250 a quarter.
Relevant goods exclude capital expenditure, food or drink for consumption by the business or its employees, vehicles, vehicle parts and fuel (unless the business operates in the transport sector), goods for hire or resale unless that is the business’s main business activity, goods for disposal, such as promotional items, and all services.
A business that meets the definition of a limited cost trader must use a VAT flat rate percentage of 16.5% rather than that for its business sector.
If you use the VAT flat rate scheme, it is advisable to discuss with your tax adviser whether these changes affect you. This is likely to be the case if you supply labour-only services. Your adviser will be able to discuss whether it remains beneficial to stay within the scheme. Businesses making taxable supplies in excess of the VAT registration threshold, set at £85,000 from 1 April 2017, must be registered for VAT.