What records must a VAT trader keep?

4th June 2019

There are distinct rules that VAT registered businesses must follow when keeping VAT records. This includes keeping proper business and accounting records, a separate VAT account as well as copies of all VAT invoices received and issued. There is no requirement to issue a VAT invoice for retail supplies to unregistered businesses unless requested by the customer.

A simplified VAT invoice can be used for supplies of up to £250. There are also specific situations where a VAT invoice does not have to be issued, for example, if your customer operates a self-billing arrangement.

Generally, a business must keep VAT business records for at least 6 years (or 10 years if they use the VAT MOSS service). By special permission, HMRC may allow you to keep certain records for a shorter period. For example, if the 6-year rule causes you serious storage problems or undue expense.

The VAT records can be held on paper, electronically or as part of a software program. There are no specific VAT rules about using a computer. Records used for other tax purposes may need to be kept for longer periods. There are financial penalties that can be levied for a failure to keep or produce the VAT records required by law.

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