Anything which can relieve the burden of VAT is to be welcomed. BDR is a useful tool if a business is aware of it and understand when it may be claimed.
It is at the very least frustrating when a client does not pay, and in some cases this situation can lead to the end of a business. At least the VAT charged to the client should not become a cost to a supplier. The BDR mechanism goes some way to protect a business from payment defaulters.
Under the normal rules of VAT, a supplier is required to account for output tax, even if the supply has not been paid for (however, the use of cash accounting or certain retail schemes removes the problem of VAT on bad debts from the supplier).
There is specific relief however:
Conditions for claiming BDR
The supplier must have supplied goods or services for a consideration in money, and must have accounted for and paid VAT on the supply. All or part of the consideration must have been written off as a bad debt by making the appropriate entry in the business’ records (this does not have to be a “formal” procedure). At least six months (but not more than three years and six months) must have elapsed since the later of the date of supply or the due date for payment.
Various records and evidence must be kept (for four years from the date of claim), in particular to identify:
• The time and nature of the supply, the purchaser, and the consideration
• The amount of VAT chargeable on the supply
• The accounting period when this VAT was accounted for and paid to HMRC
• Any payment received for the supply
• Entries in the refund for bad debts account
• The accounting period in which the claim is made.
Procedure for claiming BDR
The claim is made by including the amount of the refund in Box 4 of the VAT Return for the period in which the debt becomes over six months old.
Repayment of refund
Repayment of VAT refunded is required where payment is subsequently received or where the above conditions have not been complied with.
Refund of input tax to debtor
Businesses are required to monitor the time they take to pay their suppliers, and repay input tax claimed if they have not paid the supplier within six months. Subsequent payment of all or part of the debt will allow a corresponding reclaim of input tax. This is an easy assessment for HMRC to make at inspections, so businesses should make reviewing this matter this a regular exercise.
Finally, there is tax point planning available to defer a tax point until payment is received for providers of continuous supplies of services. Please see here