Tax & admin · 30 April 2021

How to deregister for VAT in the UK?

How to deregister for VAT UK?

VAT deregistration is an important task to address as it must be actioned within 30 days if you stop being eligible, or you may be charged a penalty.

As a business owner, you are accountable for the cancellation of your business VAT registration in the UK if you’re no longer eligible to be VAT registered. This may be because you stop trading, drop below the VAT threshold (£83, 000 turnover) or stop making VAT taxable supplies, or you might have joined a VAT group.

This guide will help you answer all your questions.

Why would you deregister for VAT?

One of the common reasons for deregistration is when a business falls below the VAT threshold.  Once your turnover is below that threshold, there is no need to be registered until you reattain the registration thresholds.

If you present to HMRC that your forecasted taxable turnover, for the following tax year, will fall below the deregistration threshold you may deregister. Even if you are currently trading above the threshold for the entire year, you can still apply for deregistration. This would be on the quantifiable basis of a forecasted trend that suggests your forthcoming year will fall below the threshold.

The threshold is not automatically derived from the net taxable turnover figure in Box 6 of VAT return. It does not accurately represent the invoice value of taxable supplies if the entity were not registered. The gross turnover is the relevant figure.

Can I deregister for VAT at any time?

Deregistration is not allowed if its threshold is crossed by a reduction in turnover from closing the business for 30 days or more.

Prospective sales of capital goods aren’t seen as turnover (except positively rated land).

You may deregister (subject to certain factors) when registration was due to the acquisition of goods from the EU or the distance selling rules.

  • Distance selling 

If you choose to register for distance selling voluntarily, you cannot switch back to home-country VAT rates until 1 January after the second complete year of being registered.

  • Compulsory deregistration 

If your business model changes to trading in non-taxable supplies, you must notify HMRC within 30 days to de-register.

  • Business closure

If your intention is to cease trading you should file to deregister for vat with the required 30 days notification period.

How would HMRC know a business had ceased?

In practice, HMRC would only pick up when trading ceased after two or three quarters in a row. Your business must, however, have zero intention after restarting taxable trading. If the intention is there, then it is not deemed ceased. HMRC will only engage with a deregistration process if the intention to not continue trading is there, and the activity appears to cease.

HMRC does not want to ‘flog a dead horse’, and they are required by legislation to deregister a business quickly if relevant. It costs the country money to keep dormant businesses on the register, and therefore, they are quick to shave off loss-giving accounts.

It is not uncommon that when a business ceases to trade, some customers have failed to pay. After the deregistration, your business may claim bad debt relief for up to four years via completing the VAT427 form online, printing it off to be signed and submitted. As always, it is essential you have all the supporting documentation to hand in BEFORE starting because a half-completed form cannot be saved.

Additionally, and this is one point to note carefully, the HMRC can collect tax in the process of the deregistration of your business. This brings us to the possible disadvantages of deregistering.

Disadvantages of deregistering

When considering changing your business from a vatable business to a non-vatable, you should definitely consult with your CFO or accountant. This is necessary to be secure in the knowledge that the business will not lose out financially.

The treatment of assets

One of the biggest deregistering disadvantages that your financial advisor will bring to your attention, which needs to be addressed before allowing inevitable deregistration to occur, is the treatment of assets.

VAT calculated on assets