VAT - cash accounting

We summarise the workings of cash accounting for VAT. If you are starting or have recently started a business in the Avon area we, at Zig Zag Chartered Accountants, can advise you on the cash accounting scheme.

Cash accounting enables a business to account for and pay VAT on the basis of cash received and paid, rather than on the basis of invoices issued and received.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Scheme

The advantages of the scheme are as follows:

The potential disadvantages are as follows:

Key Rules

A business can join the scheme if it has reasonable grounds for believing that taxable turnover in the next 12 months will not exceed £1,350,000 and provided that it:

All standard and zero-rated supplies count towards the £1,350,000 threshold except anticipated sales of capital assets previously used within the business. Exempt supplies are excluded from the calculation.

When a business joins the scheme, it must be careful not to account again for VAT on any amounts already dealt with previously on the basis of invoices issued and received.

A business can start using the scheme without informing HMRC.

The cash accounting scheme does not cover:

Once annual taxable turnover exceeds £1,600,000 the business must leave the scheme immediately.

On leaving the scheme, in principle VAT becomes due on all supplies on which it has not already been accounted for. Unclaimed input tax on invoices received can be offset against the output tax. However in order to smooth the transition from cash accounting to accruals accounting HMRC allows a period whereby all VAT that is outstanding at the date of leaving the scheme can still be accounted for on a cash basis for a further six months after leaving the scheme.

Accounting for VAT

Output tax must be accounted for when payment is received. There are specific rules for different types of payment:

Treated as received on the date the cheque is received or if later, the date on the cheque. If the cheque is not honoured an adjustment can be made.
Credit/debit card
Treated as received/paid on the date of the sales voucher.
Standing order/direct debits
Treated as received/paid on the day the bank account is credited.
Part payments
VAT must be accounted for on all receipts/payments even where they are part payments. Part payments are allocated to invoices in date order (earliest first) and any part payment of an invoice allocated to VAT by making a fair and reasonable apportionment.


Under the cash accounting scheme the prime record will be a cash book that summarises all payments made and received with a separate column for VAT. The payments need to be clearly cross-referenced to the appropriate purchase/sales invoice.

In addition the normal requirements regarding copies of VAT invoices and evidence of input tax apply.

How we can help

If you are starting or have recently started a business we, at Zig Zag Chartered Accountants, can advise on whether the VAT cash accounting scheme would be suitable for your business.