BlogMay 16, 2023
Reverse Charge VAT in 2023
The Blue dot Team
The Blue dot Team
Reverse charge VAT is something of a maze. It takes the basic concept of VAT, where you charge VAT and then pay that amount to HMRC, but it removes the middleman. Instead of paying the VAT to you, your customer pays the money directly to HMRC.
Yes, it’s easy to understand why most people get confused. Why would the customer suddenly be paying VAT?
The answer lies in the need to mitigate fraud. Some suppliers charge VAT on their invoices but end up keeping the money for themselves, not paying it to the tax authority. Domestic reverse charge VAT was implemented in the UK to prevent this fraud by expecting the customer, or end user, to take on the responsibility of paying VAT.
The other type of reverse charge VAT lies in cross-border VAT charges that apply to companies that purchase services outside the UK.
For example: Bob is a handyman, and he comes in to fix the gutters at an office block. He then charges the company his fee plus VAT. With reverse charge VAT, he would only invoice for his services, noting on his invoice that he is abiding by VAT reverse charge rules, and the company then pays the VAT to HMRC directly.
Note: The sector most affected by reverse charge VAT is the construction sector.
If you want to know exactly how reverse charge VAT may affect your business or industry, visit the HMRC website here, or follow the detailed guidance notes on the domestic reverse charge procedure here.
If your business qualifies for reverse charge VAT, then it can affect your income and cash flow. Cash that would have sat in your business is now paid directly to HMRC, so it is no longer available to you. You may also find that you will have to set aside cash to manage supplier payments and to keep as working capital because the drop in VAT payments will affect your available cash supplies.
As outlined above, your cash flow may be directly affected by reverse charge VAT as suddenly 20% that came in with every invoice is no longer coming into your business and instead is being sent directly to HMRC. As cash flow can really make or break a business, it is critical that you plan ahead.
It is a good idea to work with your accountant or accounting team, as well as with trusted accounting service providers, to restructure your finances and cash flow expectations to match this shift in income. If you can plan ahead properly, then you can minimise the impact on your bottom line.
Reverse charge VAT primarily impacts the building and construction industry across certain services and materials used to provide these services. These are some of the scenarios that are affected by reverse charge VAT as taken from the HMRC website:
If you want to know more about how this works and you are in the supply building and construction industry go here, or if you are in the buy building and construction industry services go here. There is also an extensive list of different types of suppliers and how you can opt into becoming an end-user (the company paying the VAT to HMRC) on the tax authority’s website.
After reading through the extensive HMRC documentation above, you should now know if you are eligible for reverse charge VAT. This means you will not charge VAT on your invoices, and the responsibility for paying VAT falls to your customer – you just need to ensure you mark this on your invoices going forward.
If you are eligible for reverse charge VAT, you need to have accounting systems capable of handling the requirements it entails. This will help you manage your cash flow (which is an important part of reverse charge VAT) and ensure that you remain compliant with HMRC.
When you complete your VAT returns, you will include the VAT exclusive value of the services you supplied in the total value of the sales you made. You will not have to fill in output tax because that has become your customer’s responsibility.
It is important that you use a trusted accounting platform and service provider to ensure that your cash flow is not adversely affected by your use of reverse charge VAT. Your accounting team should also be aware of the requirements around completing your VAT return with reverse charge VAT rules in place, and you should have all the paperwork you need to provide proof of your having invoiced with reverse charge VAT accounted for.
If you are eligible to pay reverse charge VAT, then it is worth contacting your suppliers and customers to let them know that the onus of paying VAT falls on them. This will help them to put their processes in place to ensure that their cash flow is not affected and that they remain compliant with the tax authority.
Have you still got burning questions about reverse charge VAT? We answer some of the main ones for you below:
You are responsible for letting your customers know that you are now eligible for, and invoicing for, reverse charge VAT. They are then responsible for reporting the VAT and paying it to HMRC.
Certain goods and services are excluded from reverse charge VAT, such as supplies to businesses that are not registered for VAT, supplies to customers that are not using them for the business, and cross-border transactions of certain goods and services. For a complete list of exemptions, read the HMRC technical guidance here.
As a reverse charge VAT supplier, you need to ensure that you note that your invoice has reversed the VAT charge to your customer.
You can reclaim your Input VAT on your reverse charge purchases in your VAT return.
This is an in-depth topic, as cross-border reverse charge VAT has its own regulations and expectations. However, if you would like to know more about cross-border VAT, you can read the VAT on Services from Abroad guidelines here.
As Reverse Charge VAT applies to business to business transactions, this means that the VAT paid and the VAT thresholds are determined by the VAT rules in the country of the customer. This means that the thresholds or turnover limits that affect this charge will be dictated by the country within which you do business.
Reverse charge VAT can sound complex, but with the right support and VAT technology, you can easily manage its implications for your business. If you would like a bit more information about VAT, we have developed a series of Tax Education videos designed to make your life easier. As one of the world’s foremost tax compliance platforms, our patented technology provides incredible insights and support to help you get on top of your VAT.