We know the standard rate of VAT will increase on 4 January 2011 from 17.5% to 20%, but will your business be ready?
It may be difficult for retail businesses to re-price everything displayed in the store over the New Year break, ready for opening on 4 January. Fortunately the law does allow you to make the adjustment from 17.5% to 20% VAT at the till for up to 28 days after the VAT increase.
You do need to notify your customers that you are making this adjustment so have a sign advising customers that a price adjustment will be made at point of sale to reflect the increased VAT, and find time to reprogramme your tills before 4 January!
An alternative approach is to increase all your prices before 4 January 2011 to accommodate the higher VAT rate. If you are having new menus printed for winter, now could be a good time to make the price changes.
Where a customer places an order before 4 January 2011 for goods or services to be delivered after that date, you can generally charge VAT at the current standard rate of 17.5%. To apply the current rate of VAT you must either issue an invoice, or receive a payment before 4 January 2011.
You should not artificially advance sales by issuing invoices that are not due for payment for six months or more. You will also be caught by anti-avoidance rules if your business is connected with your customer, or the amount due is £100,000 or more.
If you use the flat rate scheme for small businesses you need to check-out the flat rates that will apply from 4 January 2011, as set out on the HMRC guidance website: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/schemes/flat-rate.htm#5a
You may find that when you apply the new flat rate to the gross sales made on and after 4 January 2011, you will be worse off than operating outside the flat rate scheme. If this is the case you need to inform the VAT office in writing that you want to leave the flat rate scheme. It's easiest if you do this with effect from the start of your next VAT quarter. If you leave the flat rate scheme you can't rejoin the scheme for at least 12 months.
For specific advice on how to deal with the VAT rate change in your business, please contact Andrew Woods at Hargreaves & Woods Chartered Accountants & Chartered Tax Advisers, Chester.
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