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General Enquiries
Accounts Department
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VAT Departmen

Value Added Tax (VAT) is levied on most business transactions and on many goods and some services.
BBC News explains how VAT works and who has to pay it.

There are three rates of VAT in the UK: 17.5% (the 'standard' rate), 5% ('reduced' rate) and 0% ('zero' rate).

If you run a business or work for yourself you will probably have to register for VAT if your taxable turnover reaches a certain limit, if you take over a business as a going concern or you buy goods from elsewhere in the EU.

The VAT registration level is £60,000 of your taxable turnover, but businesses with turnovers of less than this limit can also register if they wish.

Companies over the £60,000 limit which fail to register can be fined.

Taxable turnover

Goods and services liable to VAT are called 'taxable supplies'. If your business turnover reaches the registration threshold, it must be registered for VAT and the business must charge VAT on all taxable supplies.

VAT doesn't apply to services such as insurance, some types of education, training and loans, as these are deemed to be 'exempt'.

VAT advice line
0845 010 9000

The amount owed to Revenue and Customs is the difference between your output tax and input tax.

Output tax is the VAT charged to your VAT-registered customers, and VAT charged by suppliers to your business is your input tax.

To work out what is owed to Revenue and Customs, deduct your input tax from your output tax. If input tax is greater than output tax, a refund may be owed.

Should I register?

Even if your taxable turnover is below £60,000, you may be eligible to apply for 'voluntary registration'.

There are advantages and disadvantages to registering voluntarily - and it is important to weigh up the pros and cons.

Revenue and Customs says one of the benefits is increased "credibility" but maybe the more important benefit is, if your business makes standard or zero-rated supplies, you'll be able to claim back input tax.

Once registered for VAT, however, it can be a hassle.

You'll have to keep careful VAT records and accounts, account for output tax on all your taxable supplies, and send in VAT returns regularly.

For information, call Revenue and Customs helpline: 0845 010 9000.

Telephone 0207 1 934261 if you wish to arrange an appointment to speak with one of our specialists, or email Allan Meacher (Accounts), Susan Jones (Tax), Anne Kelly (Payroll), or Julia Rayner (VAT) Roger Farrel Business startups.

For other more general enquiries either telephone 0207 1 934261, or email General Enquiries.

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