Monthly Archives: September 2014

Holding companies in VAT groups and input tax recovery

By   September 29, 2014

Care must be taken when considering the recoverability of input tax incurred by a holding company167634606

In the past holding companies which were members of a VAT Group were treated in the same way as any other member of the group. As a result, input tax incurred by the holding company were recoverable by reference the the VAT group’s (as a whole) recovery position.

As a result of the recent Court of Appeal judgement in the case of BAA Ltd HMRC have announced an updated policy HERE

The revised policy is that that input tax is only recoverable by holding companies where it is incurred in the course of an economic activity and there is a direct and immediate link to taxable supplies, This means that a passive holding company cannot now rely solely on its membership of a VAT group to recover input tax.  For recovery, the VAT must be incurred in respect of taxable supplies made by the holding company itself.

For information on the impacts on this change – please contact us.




With the Scottish vote approaching….

By   September 10, 2014

What happens if Scotland gains independence?

A VAT what if….

If the Scots vote for, and gain, full independence from the UK, it is likely that the country will become a separate Member State of the EU. According to David Cameron; It’s currency will become the Euro and it will need to form its own authority for administering VAT. Although cross border controls will not be introduced, the VAT treatment of cross-border transactions will change significantly. Apart from the usual currency exchange issues, UK businesses will also be required to complete additional EC Sales Lists, Intrastat Declarations, and potentially a lot of other administrative and statistical documentation.

UK businesses will also need to determine the status of its Scottish customer, which in turn will establish the place of supply, which will dictate whether UK VAT, Scottish VAT, or no VAT is chargeable. Then there are the Distance Selling rules to consider. Some UK businesses will be required to register in Scotland as well as the UK if they sell goods by mail order. And don’t forget the changed VAT treatment of goods and services purchased from Scotland; in most cases a UK reverse charge will be applicable. Depending on circumstances though, UK businesses and residents will incur Scottish VAT and if they do, only some will be able to recover it. This will not be via a usual UK VAT return, but via an alternative VAT claim method which also adds complexity. Then there is the increase in triangulation cases, never the most straightforward VAT subject!

A simple supply from Carlisle to Ayr would will need to be analysed with a massive amount more information required plus the additional bureaucratic form filling. This added complexity will also increase the possibility of errors on which penalties will be levied.

John Swinney, the cabinet secretary for finance in the Scottish Government has pointed out that an independent Scotland would be able to choose its own levels of income tax and VAT, as well as taking control of other sources of revenue such as alcohol and tobacco duty, air passenger duty and landfill tax.

From a practical point of view, will shops and other business establishments in the North of England start accepting both Sterling and Euros? Will invoices routinely show both Sterling and Euro values? Will excise and duty rates be similar to the UK? Will there be opportunities for enterprising individuals to take advantage of any differences? Will we see smugglers coming up against modern day Robert Burns in his Exciseman incarnation? At what rate will the Scots set VAT? Will it be possible that cross border VAT rate shopping will take place? Will the Scots lose the zero rating reliefs which they currently enjoy as part of the UK? Will the Scottish people be forced to pay VAT on new houses, food, books and children’s clothing after independence? One thing is for sure, the Scots will need a whole new set of domestic legislation to cover VAT and indirect taxes.

Also: What about groups of companies with Scottish and English subsidiaries currently in the same UK VAT Group? Were independence to happen, it would be a riot unpicking that lot.

Good luck everybody!

What VAT CAN’T you claim?

By   September 4, 2014

The majority of input tax incurred by most VAT registered businesses may be recovered.  However, there is some input tax that may not be.  I thought it would be helpful if I pulled together all of these categories in one place:

Blocked VAT ClaimsWebsite Images0006

A brief overview

  •  No supporting evidence

In most cases this evidence will be an invoice (or as the rules state “a proper tax invoice)” although it may be import, self-billing or other documentation in specific circumstances.  A claim is invalid without the correct paperwork.  HMRC may accept alternative evidence, however, they are not duty bound to do so (and rarely do).  So ensure that you always obtain and retain the correct documentation.

  • Incorrect supporting evidence

Usually this is an invalid invoice, or using a delivery note/statement/pro forma in place of a proper tax invoice. To support a claim an invoice must show all the information set out in the legislation.  HMRC are within their rights to disallow a claim if any of the details are missing.  A full guide is here:

  •  Input tax relating to exempt supplies

Broadly speaking, if a business incurs VAT in respect of exempt supplies it cannot recover it.  If a business makes only exempt supplies it cannot even register for VAT.  There is a certain easement called de minimis which provide for recovery if the input tax is below certain prescribed limits. Input tax which relates to both exempt and taxable activities must be apportioned. More details of partial exemption may be found here:

  •  Input tax relating to non-business activities

If a charity or NFP entity incurs input tax in connection with non-business activities this cannot be recovered and there is no de minimis relief.  Input tax which relates to both business and non-business activities must be apportioned. Business versus non-business apportionment must be carried out first and then any partial exemption calculation for the business element if appropriate. More details here:

  •  Time barred

If input tax is not reclaimed within four years of it being incurred, the capping provisions apply and any claim will be rejected by HMRC.

  •  VAT incurred on business entertainment

This is always irrecoverable unless the client or customer being entertained belongs overseas.  The input tax incurred on staff entertainment costs is however recoverable.

  •  Car purchase

In most cases the VAT incurred on the purchase of a car is blocked. The only exceptions are for when the car; is part of the stock in trade of a motor manufacturer or dealer, or is used primarily for the purposes of taxi hire; self-drive hire or driving instruction; or is used exclusively for a business purpose and is not made available for private use. This last category is notoriously difficult to prove to HMRC and the evidence to support this must be very good.

  •  Car leasing

If a business leases a car for business purposes it will normally be unable to recover 50% of the VAT charged.  The 50% block is to cover the private use of the car.

  •  A business using certain schemes

For instance, a business using the Flat rate Scheme cannot recover input tax except for certain large capital purchases, also there are certain blocks for recovery on TOMS users

  •  VAT charged in error

Even if you obtain an invoice purporting to show a VAT amount, this cannot be recovered if the VAT was charged in error; either completely inappropriately or at the wrong rate.  A business’ recourse is with the supplier and not HMRC.

  •  Goods and services not used for your business

Even if a business has an invoice addressed to it and the services or goods are paid for by the business, the input tax on the purchase is blocked if the supply is not for business use.  This may be because the purchase is for personal use, or by anther business or for purposes not related to the business.

  • VAT paid on goods and services obtained before VAT registration

This is not input tax and therefore is not claimable.  However, there are exceptions for goods on hand at registration and services received within six months of registration if certain conditions are met.

  •  VAT incurred by property developers

Input tax incurred on certain articles that are installed in buildings which are sold or leased at the zero rate is blocked.

  •  Second hand goods

Goods sold to you under one of the VAT second-hand schemes will not show a separate VAT charge and no input tax is recoverable on these goods.

  •  Transfer of a going concern (TOGC)

Assets of a business transferred to you as a going concern are not deemed to be a supply for VAT purposes and consequently, there is no VAT chargeable and therefore no input tax to recover.

  •  Disbursements

A business cannot reclaim VAT when it pays for goods or services to be supplied directly to its client. However, in this situation the VAT may be claimable by the client if they are VAT registered. For more on disbursements see here:

  •  VAT incurred overseas

A business cannot reclaim VAT charged on goods or services that it has bought from suppliers in other EC States. Only UK VAT may be claimed on a UK VAT return. There is however, a mechanism available to claim this VAT back from the relevant VAT body in those States. However, in most cases, supplies received from overseas suppliers are VAT free, so it is usually worth checking whether any VAT has been charged correctly.

© Marcus Ward Consultancy Ltd