Optimum warns over delay in VAT registering

By Ben Carey on 1 September, 2023

Optimum Professional Services is urging businesses on the verge of reaching the threshold for VAT to apply for their registration sooner rather than later.

HMRC says it is currently taking 40 working days to complete a registration and provide a VAT number. According to Optimum, in reality it can take even longer to receive a VAT number.

The firm says that several of its clients are currently awaiting a VAT number, including one who applied in March.

Not having a VAT number can cause significant problems. A business must start accounting for VAT from the ‘effective date of registration’. This is the end of the month following the relevant month from which the business was obliged to register. This obligation kicks in as soon as the business’s turnover exceeds £85,000 during the previous 12 months. Businesses which voluntarily register will have agreed their date with HMRC.

From the date of registration, all invoices should include VAT. However, the business is technically unable to charge VAT without a VAT number.

While waiting for the VAT number, during the interim period HMRC recommends that businesses adjust their prices to reflect the gross amount received. VAT should not be shown separately on any invoice.

The disadvantage is that customers are likely to raise concerns that they will be unable to claim this amount back. The business should later follow up their invoices with a VAT number once it has been issued by HMRC, but this adds an additional burden.

The current £85,000 threshold has been in place since 2017 and the Government has said this will not change until at least March 2024. This means that as prices rise, and therefore turnovers increase, more and more businesses are having to register.

Pictured: Michael Blaken from Optimum Professional Services.