What is the VAT Flat Rate Scheme?

VAT Flat Rate

VAT Flat rate

The VAT flat rate scheme was introduced for small business owners to relieve the administrative burden when preparing VAT returns.

The VAT Flat Rate Scheme

Using the standard method for VAT , the amount of VAT a business pays or claims back from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the difference between the VAT charged by the business to customers and the VAT the business pays on their own purchases.

With the Flat Rate Scheme:

  • you pay a fixed rate of VAT to HMRC

  • you keep the difference between what you charge your customers and pay to HMRC

  • you cannot reclaim the VAT on your purchases - except for certain capital assets over £2,000

How to Know When a Business Is Eligible for the VAT Flat Rate Scheme

Your VAT turnover must be £150,000 or less (excluding VAT), and you must apply to HMRC to join the scheme.

You can join the scheme online when you register for VAT.

You can also fill in VAT600 FRS and either:

  • email it to frsapplications.vrs@hmrc.gov.uk

  • send it by post

Do not use the address on the form - send it to the following address instead.


HM Revenue and Customs,


You’ll get confirmation you’ve joined the scheme through your VAT online account (or in the post if you do not apply online).

You can choose to leave the scheme at any time. You must leave if you’re no longer eligible to be in it.

You must leave the scheme if:

  • you’re no longer eligible to be in it

  • on the anniversary of joining, your turnover in the last 12 months was more than £230,000 (including VAT) - or you expect it to be in the next 12 months

  • you expect your total income in the next 30 days alone to be more than £230,000 (including VAT)

To leave, write to HMRC, and they will confirm your leaving date. 

You must wait 12 months before you can rejoin the scheme.


HM Revenue and Customs


You cannot use the scheme if:

  • you left the scheme in the last 12 months

  • you committed a VAT offence in the previous 12 months, for example, VAT evasion

  • you joined (or were eligible to join) a VAT group in the previous 24 months

  • you registered for VAT as a business division in the previous 24 months

  • your business is closely associated with another business

  • you’ve joined a margin or capital goods VAT scheme

You cannot use the scheme with the Cash Accounting Scheme. Instead, the Flat Rate Scheme has its own cash-based method for calculating the turnover.

Before joining the VAT Flat Rate Scheme, you should speak to a qualified accountant to ensure your business uses the correct scheme.  

Calculating the Amount to be Paid Under the Scheme

Under the VAT Flat Rate Scheme, you pay VAT on your VAT inclusive revenue (which is charged at your normal VAT rate for your goods and services, typically 20%) multiplied by your flat rate percentage. 

You still charge VAT at 20% under the flat rate scheme. It is just the amount you pay that is subject to the flat rate percentage.

The flat rate percentage you apply depends on the sector your business operates, and you can find all the percentages here - https://www.gov.uk/vat-flat-rate-scheme/how-much-you-pay  

For example, a business has a VAT-Inclusive Turnover of £20,000 and the VAT Flat Rate is at 10%, the business owner has to pay a flat rate amounting to £2,000 or 10% of £20,000.

If your business is deemed a ‘limited cost business’ by HMRC, you cannot use the flat rate for your sector and instead will have to use 16.5% as your flat rate percentage. 

What is a ‘limited cost business’?

You’re classed as a ‘limited cost business’ if your goods cost less than either:

  • 2% of your turnover
  • £1,000 a year (if your costs are more than 2%) 

Where this is the case, you have to use 16.5% as your flat rate percentage.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of the VAT Flat Rate Scheme

Want to know if the scheme is right for you and your business? 

Here are the advantages and disadvantages, along with an exercise to calculate if you will be better or worse off using the scheme - https://www.annetteandco.co.uk/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-vat-flat-rate-scheme/ 

Other VAT schemes you might want to consider include: 

Annual Accounting VAT Scheme

Latest Posts

Profit First Strategies

Profit First Strategies: Mastering Profit First Strategies for Your Small Business

Managing finances effectively is crucial for the success and sustainability of any

Read More
Cash flow managment

Cash Flow Management: 5 Tips for Improving Cash Flow

Cash flow management is the lifeblood of any small business. Without a

Read More

Subscribe to the Friday Financial Freedom Finder Newsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter that delivers the most actionable, tactical, and timely business and financial tips you actually need in 9 minutes or less. Get an edge over the competition and get control of your business finances, for free.

About the Author

Annette Ferguson 

Owner of Annette & Co. - Chartered Accountants & Certified Profit First Professionals. Helping online service-based entrepreneurs find clarity in their numbers, increase wealth and have more money in their pockets.