How to calculate VAT?

Updated on May 28, 2022




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In the United Kingdom, a company’s annual sales and the type of products it sells decide whether or not it is legally required to file for VAT. There is no legal requirement for non-profit organisations to register.

VAT rates vary widely depending on the type of goods and the circumstances under which they are purchased. Despite the fact that there are a few exceptions, a substantial proportion of firms must charge VAT on practically every transaction.

A comprehensive explanation of how VAT is calculated is provided in this tutorial.

What is VAT?

Consumption taxes like VAT are levied at each stage in the supply chain, where the value of an item is increased. There are four steps in the chain: The producer sells raw materials to an industrial plant, the plant sells finished goods to a distributor, and finally the retailer sells them to the end user. The tax is levied at each of these stages.

Ultimately, the retail client is responsible for VAT. The next buyer in the chain pays back the VAT that was paid by the previous buyer at each stage of the product’s development.

A company tax levied by the British government on the sale of goods and services is known as VAT, or Value Added Tax. A VAT registration and VAT return must be filed by any business with a yearly revenue over the current VAT threshold (£85,000 in 20/21).

Because it is an indirect tax, companies collect it on behalf of the government. Businesses charge VAT on their goods and services and then remit the VAT to HMRC.

When it comes to purchasing goods and services, businesses that are registered for VAT must pay VAT on both the products and services that they sell to consumers and on goods and services that they receive.

VAT is levied on the majority of goods and services, including:

Sales in the workplace
Borrowing a thing
A percentage of the sale price
Hot meals served in the canteen are available for purchase by employees.
Gifts and part exchange are examples of ‘Non-sales’ business goods.
The term “taxable supplies” refers to a wide variety of commodities that are subject to VAT.

VAT calculations include the following:

When it comes to determining how much VAT your business can charge, it all boils down to the items and services you provide.
Alternatives to the VAT The amount of VAT your company owes HMRC is dependent on the exact VAT rates that apply to your scheme.
Calculations for VAT returns – Instructions on how to fill out and submit a VAT return, including information on determining how much VAT you owe or should receive from HMRC.

How does VAT work?

Businesses with a turnover of more than £85,000 are required to register for VAT. You must register as a VAT business with HMRC and begin charging VAT on the items and services you supply when your business’s turnover exceeds this amount. In other words, you can claim back the VAT your business pays on purchases of goods and services.

It is a tax collector for the corporation because of the VAT system in place. You pay HMRC the VAT you’ve collected from customers. HMRC is usually billed for the VAT you get once every three months, and you are required to submit a VAT Return at that time as well. Depending on the VAT accounting scheme you select, there are a few exceptions.

Not simply on commercial transactions, but on a wide range of goods and services as well, VAT is levied. When you rent out facilities and premises to others, and when employees are supplied cheap products or meals at a company cafeteria or cafeteria, you must charge VAT on these things. “Taxable supplies” refers to all goods and services for which you must charge VAT.

Determine which items and services should be subject to VAT and how much VAT you should charge before you can accurately assess your tax return. Even though the usual VAT rate is 20%, many products and services have a VAT rate that is lower than 20%. Car seats for children are taxed at just 5 percent, for example.

How to calculate VAT?

Value-added tax (VAT) is calculated by subtracting the VAT that has already been paid from the VAT amount at the current production set. Double taxation is avoided and customers are repaid for the VAT they have already paid at every point.

Three distinct VAT rates apply:

1. Standard rate

Most businesses and the vast majority of goods and services are subject to a standard VAT rate of 20%. In other words, if an item costs £100 and the VAT rate is 20%, the buyer will have to pay £120 to the vendor. To put it another way, the business keeps £100 while paying the government just £20.

Ice cream and confectionary are included in this category, thus they are priced at their regular cost.

2. Reduced rate 

Tobacco cessation treatments, toiletries, and some children’s car seats and various energy-saving materials are all subject to a 5% VAT rate in the Netherlands. The government keeps a list of the numerous goods and services and their respective VAT rates. This can be used to assess whether or not a reduced VAT rate should be applied to a product or service that the company sells.

3. Zero rate  

Certain products and services, including as children’s apparel and accessories, books, periodicals, and disabled-accessible appliances, have a 0 percent VAT charge.

Furthermore, certain products are deemed “exempt.” Postage stamps, as well as financial and real estate transactions, fall under this category. These products and services, including zero-rate objects, are exempt from VAT. These, however, are not obliged to be included in your taxable turnover.

Services in specified industries such as dentistry, education, medical, insurance, and finance are also exempted.

Although the nominal zero rates still exist and hence needs records, exempted products do not have to be accounted for in your taxable turnover. Similarly, if you buy exempt things, you won’t reclaim the VAT from HMRC.

Example of VAT Calculation

If the regular VAT rate of 20% applies to the products or services:

When selling things or services, you must add 20% to the price. The charge can be multiplied by 1.2 to achieve this.

Multiply the price of sporting equipment by 1.2 to achieve a total VAT-inclusive price of £60, as an example.

On the invoice or receipt, you include the item’s price (£50), VAT (£10), and the total cost (£60).

Calculating the amount of VAT to be paid to HMRC

The amount of VAT that must be paid to HMRC is rather straightforward. The difference between the firm’s sales invoices for its products and services and the VAT levied on the items and services it buys is typically the source of the shortfall. It’s common to charge the maximum amount of VAT on all goods or services, although there are certain exceptions to this rule.

Output VAT is the amount of VAT collected from the sale of goods and services, while input VAT is the amount of VAT paid by your business.

The formula for calculating VAT

Taking the amount of VAT paid into account when calculating your VAT is essential.

Suppose a corporation charged £14,000 in VAT on the goods and services it sold (output VAT) and paid £4,000 in VAT on the goods and services it acquired (input VAT). In this case, the VAT computation would be:.

HMRC will receive £14,000 (output VAT) – £4,000 (input VAT) = £10,000 in VAT.


Customer-borne VAT is not a tax imposed on individual enterprises. Taxes on the sale of goods and services are referred to as Value Added Taxes (VAT). According to the notion, it is an easy process. Consumers are charged VAT by businesses, who then remit it to the government.

For all but the tiniest businesses, VAT is a financial reality that needs meticulous record-keeping and accurate measurement when deciding how much VAT to charge and return to HMRC. VAT is an accounting reality.