Making Tax Digital for VAT – can I just record the daily gross takings?

Making Tax Digital for VAT – can I just record the daily gross takings?

CIOT’s Richard Wild looks at which businesses can use the digital record keeping relation for retailers

Making Tax Digital for VAT – can I just record the daily gross takings?

For many businesses, Making Tax Digital changes how transactions must be recorded in their accounting records. Not only does it require the relevant information to be captured digitally, the rules specify precisely what information needs to be recorded in relation to each supply. This may require a change in the method or nature (or both) of these businesses’ record-keeping.

We have seen numerous queries around how to keep records which are compliant with MTD, but a question which comes up repeatedly is how MTD affects businesses who supply final consumers, but who do not consider themselves ‘retailers’. Examples could include restaurants and cafes, car wash businesses, and even a different revenue stream within a non-retail business such as a bar or a gift shop within a B&B or hotel. I will refer to them as ‘cash businesses’ in the remainder of this article.

Record keeping requirements

Let’s first look at the basic requirements and consider why cash businesses may find these difficult to comply with.

The Value Added Tax (Amendment) Regulations (2018 No. 261) state that the following information must be captured within the digital records:

(3) Subject to paragraph (4) the information specified for the purposes of paragraph (1) for each accounting period is—

(a) subject to sub-paragraph (c), for each supply made within the period—

(i) the time of supply,

(ii) the value of the supply, and

(iii) the rate of VAT charged;

Paragraph (c) provides some relaxation from these rules:

(c) where more than one supply is recorded on a tax invoice and those supplies are either—

(i) supplies made which are required to be accounted for in respect of the same prescribed accounting period and are subject to the same rate of VAT, or

they may be treated as a single supply for the purposes of … sub-paragraph (a)…

These rules are repeated in paragraph 4.3.2 of the VAT Notice (700/22).

Most readers will be aware that the word ‘supply’ in VAT has a particular meaning, and is much more granular than the amounts recorded on an invoice or statement, or amounts paid or received. So, businesses who make lots of individual supplies, particularly to end customers for whom they are not required to supply a VAT invoice, would have difficulties complying with the above record-keeping requirements of MTD.

Relaxation for retailers

Fortunately, all is not lost. Provision has been made in the Regulations to relax the above requirements in particular circumstances:

(4) The information specified in paragraph (3) may be varied by direction of the Commissioners to make provision about—

(c) the operation of retail schemes under Part 9 of these Regulations (supplies by

retailers);

Paragraph 4.5 of the VAT Notice provides that relaxation in a paragraph which has the force of law:

In addition to the records listed in paragraph 4.3 above, if you account for VAT using a retail scheme you must keep a digital record of your Daily Gross Takings (DGT). You are not required to keep a separate record of the supplies that make up your DGT within functional compatible software.

For more information on retail schemes and Daily Gross Takings see VAT notice 727: retail schemes.

So, retailers do not need to capture the details of each individual supply they make in their digital records, but they do need to record the total of all retail supplies for each day of trading – it cannot be done on a less frequent (eg weekly) basis.

But the question remains – does this relaxation include ‘non-traditional’ retailers ie the cash businesses described above?

What is a retailer?

There is no definition of ‘retail’ or ‘retailer’ in the VAT Act or the VAT Regulations. HMRC provide a definition in the retail scheme VAT Notice (727) as follows:

Retail is the selling of goods or services to consumers [and the retail schemes are aimed at retailers that cannot account for VAT using normal accounting].

Accounting for VAT in the normal way does not require businesses to issue a tax invoice to unregistered customers, but it does require them to identify, for each sale, the tax exclusive value and the VAT, and to be able to produce periodic totals of those amounts. Many cash businesses will not be able to do this, because of the level of information they retain in relation to each sale they make – even if they use electronic tills.

Therefore, in accordance with the definition above, and as HMRC has also kindly confirmed to us, cash businesses are considered to be retailers for these purposes. Cash businesses are likely to be covered by the point of sale scheme. This applies where the business is identifying the VAT rate when they make the sale and, if all sales are standard rated, they simply apply the VAT fraction to calculate the VAT due. As there is no retail scheme calculation per se to undertake then these businesses often do not realise that they are using a retail scheme.

So, these cash businesses can therefore benefit from the relaxation set out above in relation to their retail sales ie they can simply record their Daily Gross Takings in their digital records. They do not need to record each individual sale, nor is a digital link required between their tills and their accounting records – the input of the Daily Gross Takings is the start of the digital journey.

Any non-retail sales will need to be recorded in the digital records on a supply-by-supply basis as they do not benefit from this relaxation.

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