Flat Rate Sector

16th June 2016

Contractors: Don’t pay too much flat rate VAT.
Just three weeks ago it was reported that the VAT flat rate scheme guidance was flawed. The ATT had highlighted that HMRC’s practice was costing traders, as they were forced to pay more VAT to HMRC under the flat rate scheme than the law required. HMRC has now responded with a welcome rewrite of VAT Notice 733: Flat rate scheme for small businesses. This notice now reflects comments made by judges in tax tribunal cases that businesses should ‘use ordinary English’ in choosing the flat rate trade category.

HMRC previously insisted that all consultants should chose the category ‘management consultants’ (flat rate: 14%), even if they were consultants in health and safety, employment, or marketing. Now those businesses who do not describe themselves as management consultants are free to choose the category ‘business services not listed elsewhere’ (flat rate:12%). Another area that caused confusion was the advice in para 4.4 of the previous version of VAT Notice 733, that all engineering consultants and designers should choose the category for ‘architect, civil and structural engineer or surveyor’ (flat rate 14.5%). The first tier tribunal cases: SLL Subsea Engineering Ltd (TC4256) and Idess Ltd (TC3638) found that mechanical engineers were not civil engineers, so mechanical engineers could choose the category ‘business services not listed elsewhere’ (flat rate 12%). That advice has been removed from the new version of VAT Notice 733.

The starting point for any business adopting the VAT flat rate scheme for the first time is to refer to the list of categories in the 1995 VAT Regulations, SI1995/2518, Reg 55K, in order to choose its trade category. In areas of doubt (e.g. where there is no specific category for the business description), HMRC offers assistance in the flat rate scheme manual at FRS7200 and FRS7300, which now reflect the recent court cases. It is also reassuring to read that Notice 733 confirms: “HMRC will not change your choice of sector retrospectively as long as your choice was reasonable. It will be sensible to keep a record of why you chose your sector in case you need to show HMRC that your choice was reasonable”.

Related Services

Value Added Tax Tax Planning


 
Other items in Blogs
 
Vanessa Pearson
16th January 2020 Off-Payroll Working Rules: 11th hour reprieve?

Those personal service companies working in the private sector (referred to, variously, as freelancers, consultants or contractors) should now be aware that new tax rules will apply to them wef 1-Apr-20.  These rules, off-payroll working, aim to finally clamp down on the abuse of the Inland Revenue Press Release number 35 tax rules (IR35) that…

Read More »

Lucy Bayliss
8th January 2020 It’s the final countdown!

There are only 23 days until the self-assessment tax return deadline of 31 January 2020. If your return is not filed electronically by this date, an automatic £100 penalty will be applied. Please note that the deadline for filing a paper tax return was 31 October 2019 and therefore all returns are required to be…

Read More »

Vanessa Pearson
13th December 2019 April 2020 Proposed IR35 changes: Status appeals process

As the planned changes to who determines IR35 status are fast approaching, contractors would be well advised to review their contracts on HMRC’s updated CEST (Check Employment Status for Tax) tool. Having provided answers to questions regarding substitution, control and nature of the work, the updated tool will give HMRC’s view of the workers employment…

Read More »

Ben Kilby
12th December 2019 VAT Surcharge

Have you or your business received one between 23 April 2018 and 31 January 2019?   If so, you may want to check if it has been dated. If it has not been dated you may be in for a refund. Any surcharge liability notice or surcharge liability notice extensions are invalid if they have…

Read More »

Lucy Bayliss
25th November 2019 Don’t let your tax bill affect your festive joy. Instead, spread your tax payments throughout the year!

With the festive period fast approaching, it is easy to lose sight of your self-assessment tax return!   If you are employed or receiving a pension and you file your return before 30 December 2019, you can elect to have your tax collected through ‘Pay As You Earn’ (PAYE) rather than paying one lump sum…

Read More »

Ian Piper
22nd November 2019 2019 Growth: Missing in action?

(Data Source) As another year draws to a close, local SME businesses will be forgiven for looking forward to drawing a line under it. With 2019 sales growth barely nudging 1%, it has been a year of focusing on not slipping backwards, rather than the usual mantra of continually signing up new accounts.  When commentators…

Read More »