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Q. Why is it important to differentiate between items that are zero-rated for VAT and those that are exempt?

A: Although both zero-rated and exempt supplies result in no VAT being applied to the supply, they are very different, and it is important to understand the distinctions.

Zero-rating is a rate of VAT, albeit at zero per cent. The goods and/or services to which it applies are taxable supplies. This in turn renders any supplier of zero-rated goods and/or services liable to register for VAT, where appropriate. Please see the GOV.uk website for further information on registration.  The advantage of VAT registration is that VAT can be reclaimed on costs.

However, a business making solely exempt supplies is not making taxable supplies, so cannot register for VAT. Consequently, all VAT incurred upon expenditure becomes an additional irrecoverable cost.

Where a supply could be either zero-rated or exempt, zero-rating takes priority.

About the Author

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Martin Johnson

Partner
With expertise in advising family-owned companies on a range of tax, accountancy and business issues, Martin also has an in-depth knowledge of the automotive and property sectors. In addition, he provides advice on inheritance tax planning and wealth management to owner-managed businesses.  Martin leads the firm in developing its expertise in the buy-to-let sector, advising both residential and commercial property owners on relevant tax and legislation issues.   A further element to Martin’s role is to build Torgersens’ relationships with banks, financial advisors and specialists in commercial and employment law to ensure that the firm’s clients have access to market-leading guidance.  

To get in touch please e-mail martin.johnson@torgersens.com.

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