How to calculate VAT?

Updated on June 2, 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. Registration is optional for companies that are not required to do so by law.

Various VAT rates apply to various categories of commodities in various circumstances. Despite a few exceptions, VAT is imposed on a vast number of firms in almost every transaction.

This article will provide comprehensive details on how VAT is calculated.

What is VAT?

This tax is a consumption tax that is levied at each point of sale where value is added to the product, such as a grocery store. Raw materials manufacturers pay the tax when they sell a product to factories; factories pay the tax when they sell a finished product, and distributors pay it when they sell it to retailers; retailers pay it when they sell it to customers.

Ultimately, the retail client is responsible for VAT. The customer at each stage of the product’s development reimburses the previous buyer for VAT.

This tax, known as Value Added Tax, is levied by the government on the sale of goods and services in the United Kingdom. Companies with a turnover greater than the current VAT threshold (£85,000 in 20/21) must register for VAT and file a VAT report, regardless of their size.

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 their clients and the goods and services they receive in return.

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

Incorporated sales
Goods are loaned out
Commission on the sale of company assets
The canteen sells hot meals to employees.
Gifts and part exchange are examples of ‘Non-sales’ business goods.
Taxable supplies” refer to a wide range of goods and services that are liable to VAT.

The following are some examples of VAT calculations:

The sort of goods and services your business provides determines the amount of VAT it can charge.
Alternatives to the VAT The amount of VAT you owe HMRC depends on the type of VAT scheme you’re in.
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. Your company must register as a VAT firm with HMRC and begin charging VAT on the items and services it provides once its annual revenue exceeds this threshold. In other words, you can claim back the VAT your business pays on purchases of goods and services.

The business acts as a tax collector as a result of the VAT programme. You are responsible for remitting to HMRC any VAT you have collected from the sale of your products and services. You must submit a VAT Return every three months to HMRC for the VAT you receive. Depending on the VAT accounting scheme you select, there are a few exceptions.

Not only company sales are subject to VAT; it also applies to a wide range of other goods and services. As a business owner, you are required to charge VAT on any goods or services that you provide to your employees at a reduced price or at a staff cafeteria. ‘Taxable supplies’ are those items for which you must charge VAT.

In order to accurately calculate your VAT return, you must first identify which goods and services are subject to VAT and how much VAT you must charge for each. Many items and services have a lower VAT charge than the typical 20 percent. Car seats for children are taxed at just 5 percent, for example.

How to calculate VAT?

To calculate the amount of VAT that must be charged at each stage, subtract the VAT previously paid from the VAT amount at the most recent manufacturing set. Double taxation is avoided and customers are repaid for the VAT they have already paid at each point in time.

Three rates of VAT are available:

1. Standard rate

For most businesses and most goods and services, the standard VAT rate of 20 percent is in force. For example, the buyer will be required to pay the merchant £120 if a product costs £100 and the VAT rate is 20%. As a result, the company has £100 in cash and pays the government £20 in taxes.

Foods like ice cream and candy, which are considered luxuries, are charged at their regular price.

2. Reduced rate 

Tobacco cessation products, toiletries, and some children’s car seats and various energy-saving materials are all subject to a 5% VAT rate in the United Kingdom. Various goods and services have different VAT rates, which the government keeps track of in a directory. This can be used to assess whether or not a reduced VAT rate should be applied to a product that the company sells.

3. Zero rate  

VAT is not charged on certain goods and services, such as children’s apparel and accessories, books, magazines, and accessible appliances.

Additionally, some products are exempt. This includes things like postage stamps and banking and real estate transactions. VAT is not applicable to the zero-rate items or services listed above. These, on the other hand, are not deductible from your taxable income.

Dental, educational, medical, and financial services are all exempt from this rule.

Exempted products do not have to be included in your taxable turnover, despite the fact that nominal zero rates still apply. Additionally, if you purchase things that are exempt from VAT, you will not be able to receive the money back from HMRC.

Example of VAT Calculation

The usual VAT rate of 20% is applicable if the products or services are subject to VAT.

You must add 20% to the cost of your goods or services. By doubling the charge by 1.2, you can do 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 mention the item price (£50), the VAT (£10), and the total amount (£60).

Calculating the amount of VAT to be paid to HMRC

Calculating the VAT due to HMRC is a simple process. 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. There are a few exceptions to the general rule of charging the maximum amount of VAT on all goods and services.

Output VAT refers to the VAT collected from the sale of goods and services, whereas input VAT refers to the VAT paid by your company.

The formula for calculating VAT

You must deduct the VAT paid from the VAT charged by your business when calculating your VAT.

As an illustration, if the company charged VAT of £14,000 on the products and services it sold and paid VAT of £4,000 on the products and services it bought, the VAT computation would be as follows:

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


Customer-side value-added tax (VAT) is a tax that is collected from both businesses and consumers. Taxes on the sale of goods and services are referred to as Value Added Taxes (VAT). Theoretically, it appears to be a simple process. Consumers are responsible for paying VAT, which businesses remit to the government.

If you’re not a small business, VAT is an accounting need that requires meticulous record-keeping and accurate measurement when it comes to charging customers and remitting the appropriate amount of VAT to HMRC.

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