UK – April VAT Updates

Andrew Decker
March 17, 2022

Making Tax Digital for VAT – Expansion

Beginning in April 2022, the requirements for Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT will be expanded to all VAT registered businesses. MTD for VAT has been mandatory for all companies with annual turnover above the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 since April 2019. As a result, this year’s expansion is expected to impact smaller businesses whose turnover is below the threshold but who are nonetheless registered for UK VAT.

What is MTD for VAT – A refresher

Under MTD, businesses must digitally file VAT returns using “functional compatible software” which can connect to HMRC’s API. Companies must also use software to keep digital records of specified VAT-related documents. Stored records must include “designatory data,” such as the business name and VAT number, details on sales and purchases, and summary VAT data for the period. The use of multiple pieces of software is permitted. For example, companies can use accounting software to store digital records. Additionally, “bridging software” can be used to establish the connection with HMRC’s API and to submit the VAT returns.

Since April 2021, businesses must also comply with the digital links requirement. Under this requirement, a digital link is required whenever a business uses multiple pieces of software to store and transmit its VAT records and returns under MTD requirements. A digital link occurs when a transfer or exchange of data can be made electronically between software programs, products, or applications without the need for or involvement of any manual intervention.

Hospitality reduced rate expiration

In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the British government introduced a 5% reduced rate on specified hospitality services. This reduced rate was increased to 12.5% starting 1 October 2021. The reduced rate is currently scheduled to expire at the end of March. As a result, the following services will return to being taxed at the standard rate beginning in April:

  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages sold for on-premises consumption
  • Hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic beverages
  • Sleeping accommodation in hotels or similar establishments, holiday accommodation, pitch fees for caravans and tents, and associated facilities
  • Admissions to the following attractions, excluding those separately subject to the cultural VAT exemption, such as:
    • Theatres
    • Circuses
    • Fairs
    • Amusement parks
    • Concerts
    • Museums
    • Zoos
    • Cinemas
    • Exhibitions
    • Similar cultural events and facilities

    The expiration of this reduced rate will impact businesses in both the UK and the Isle of Man.

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Andrew Decker

Andrew Decker is a Senior Regulatroy Counsel at Sovos Compliance. Within Sovo’s Regulatory Analysis function, Andrew focuses on international VAT and GST issues and domestic sales tax issues. Andrew received a B.A. in Economics from Bates College and J.D. at Northeastern University School of Law. Andrew is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.
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