But if we could fix that then 90% of the issues we have with contracts, IR35, VAT and interpretations of professional working days would go away overnight. And that's not going to happen.
And it's pointless railing at IPSE or anyone for not doing this: have you asked them to?
Blog? What blog...?
If you were on the standard VAT scheme and reclaim VAT then a £100 + VAT expense would in reality only cost you £100 so it's entirely reasonable that you would also recharge £100 + VAT. The whole thing is VAT neutral and you recover your costs in full.
The fact you're on the FRS and can't recover the VAT is not the client or agencies problem. You should in fact be recovering the VAT as a result of making surplus income from the way the FRS works. If your input VAT on expenses is outweighing the FRS surplus income then you should come off the FRS.
Last edited by TheCyclingProgrammer; 13th November 2016 at 12:21.
Should post faster
Regardless, it's not necessarily true to say that if you are on the FRS that the input VAT on any expenses represents the true cost because if those expenses are directly related to billable work then that cost may be partially or fully covered by the margin you make from being on the scheme.
For example, if you incur costs of £100 + VAT in the course of doing two days billable work at a rate of £500/day then the simplistic view is that you've incurred £120 in costs and that is what should be added to your invoice before VAT.
However let's assume you recharge your expense at net cost on the insistence of the agency. Your total invoice is now £1100 + VAT which is £1320. Assuming a FRS rate of 14.5% you would pay HMRC £191.40 in VAT which leaves you with £1128.60. Less your £120 costs and you've made a gross profit on those two days work of £1008.60.
So in this scenario the £20 VAT on your expenses does not represent a net cost at all, so why should you be entitled to charge extra for it? The fact is for the typical contractor on the FRS not only do they effectively recover their input VAT costs from the FRS surplus (which is the whole point of it), they usually profit from it. Yet you want to have your cake and eat it and bill the client for the VAT too. Bit of a cheek really.
Obviously if your expenses are high and you're not making enough surplus from the FRS to cover the VAT on your costs then you're going to make a loss - this is the case regardless of what you charge your clients. But it's not necessarily an argument for charging the client more, it's an argument for coming off the FRS entirely.
If you would normally profit from the FRS but the costs in servicing one particular client are high then that may be an incentive to negotiate on what you charge for your costs (or your daily rate should perhaps be higher) but the idea that as a rule somebody on the FRS should recharge expenses at gross cost is rubbish.
Last edited by TheCyclingProgrammer; 13th November 2016 at 14:33.
If you're not on the FRS then the whole thing is much simpler. If you incur a cost of £100 + VAT then you recharge the same to the client. After netting off the VAT your cost is fully recovered. You and the client both recover the VAT on your VAT return and everyone is happy.
Yes, your FRS surplus counts as turnover, but the input VAT element of your expense is also tax deductible as it can't be recovered on your tax return. So it would be more accurate to say that your FRS *profit* is liable to CT which can of course be calculated by deducting the amount of input VAT you've paid from your FRS surplus income.
And as I pointed out before, if at the end of the year you're making a profit from the FRS, then you're not actually losing out by recharging the net cost of any expenses.
Last edited by TheCyclingProgrammer; 13th November 2016 at 15:05.
For those who want to see the actual correct VAT treatment of recharges and disbursements, including what is a recharge and what is a disbursement - It is all set out in a HMRC pdf document giving clear examples of how it works. In this case, the HMRC guidance is actually clear. Unfortunately, I seem to have mislaid my copy. Google should be a help.