How far back can you claim VAT on expenses in UK?


VAT, or value added tax, is one of the main sources of revenue for the UK government. It is commonly applied to most commercial and service transactions. However, VAT accounting is not always easy to understand. For example, how far back can you claim VAT while doing your business? This topic is worth having a closer look at.

Maximum period of four years for VAT refunds

Currently, in the UK, there is a set time limit within which businesses can claim a VAT refund for expenses. How far back can you claim VAT? Under current legislation, this period is four years from the end of the tax period in which the transaction took place. This means that if we have made a purchase or provided a service for which we want a VAT refund, we must do so within four years of the end of the tax period in which the transaction took place.

Preserving the company’s cash flow

VAT refund opportunities are an important consideration for companies that may wish to claim tax refunds for expenses incurred for business purposes, such as the purchase of commercial goods or services that improve the company’s operations. Four years is a long enough period for a company to gather the relevant documents and submit a claim, but also short enough to keep the VAT refund process smooth and efficient.

Documents and VAT refund application

It is also worth bearing in mind that there are certain conditions that must be complied with in order for a company to claim a VAT refund. For example, the transaction cannot be arbitrary, but must be related to the company’s main business. In addition, the business must have the relevant documents to evidence the expenses, as well as the right to claim a VAT refund. However, these are not formalities that differ significantly from procedures in other European countries.

Assistance from specialist advisory firms

In practice, submitting a VAT claim can be a complicated process, requiring a thorough knowledge of tax regulations and proper documentation of expenses. For this reason, many companies choose to enlist the help of specialist consultancy or accounting firms to assist in this regard. A useful example is INTERTAX, which provides VAT information

on the following website:

Running a business without risk

The four-year period within which VAT can be claimed for expenses is an important consideration for companies maximizing their operating costs. In order to do this effectively and without any worries, it is essential to understand the requirements and regulations for VAT reimbursement and to document expenses appropriately. This can be an important step in maintaining a healthy financial position for your business.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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