VAT Book-keeping – Tips for Record Keeping

As accountants over the last 15 years in the profession we have seen numerous tax investigations where HMRC request to see your VAT book-keeping.  While some may be triggered by an unusual event such as a tax refund or large asset purchase, most appear seemingly random – instead being triggered by risk assessments and data HMRC gather from third parties (e.g. letting agents, ebay, airbnb etc). 

While there is no way to avoid an inspection, businesses can at least be ready for one. Here at MilBen Accounts we manage our clients VAT book-keeping so that should an inspection ever occur our clients records are ready. Making it as pain free as possible so they can focus on what they do best – running their businesses.

Here’s a few tips we’ve picked up along the way.

1. Keep electronic copies of receipts 

You are required to keep vat receipts and records for at least 6 years, these must be accurate and readable. Often paper based receipts fade. Having an electronic copy is highly recommended, is acceptable by HMRC, and saves storage space!

2. Use accounting software that attaches the receipt to the transaction

When HMRC ask for copies of the receipts for everything posted to e.g. travel, having everything in accounting software means everything is accessible at a click of a few buttons rather than searching through typically hundreds of files – and certainly a lot easier than finding the paper invoices.

3. Make sure you have the actual VAT invoice saved

Proforma invoices, order confirmations, payment confirmations, paypal payment receipts etc are not valid VAT documents. Get the actual invoice saved, it is much easier to do this as you go along rather than having to find it 4 years later. 

4. Double check VAT is recorded correctly

VAT doesn’t just depend on the item you are buying It also depends on the seller, buying things on websites like Amazon or eBay doesn’t mean it has vat. It is based on the end seller. Be sure to pick out the details on the invoice so your VAT book-keeping is correct. 

If you need any help with the above please contact us