Guidance

The Margin Scheme on second-hand cars and other vehicles (VAT Notice 718/1)

How the Margin Scheme works and when you can use it for sales of second-hand vehicles.

Detail

This notice cancels and replaces Notice 718/1 (March 2011). Details of any changes to the previous version can be found in paragraph 1.2.

1. Overview

1.1 Information in this notice

This notice explains when you may use the Second-hand Margin Scheme to account for VAT on your sales of second-hand vehicles.

It explains:

  • which vehicles you can sell under the scheme
  • how the scheme works
  • how to calculate the margin
  • what records you must keep

This notice assumes that you have a working knowledge of basic VAT principles, as outlined in VAT guide (VAT Notice 700).

If you need more help or advice, please call the VAT general enquiries helpline.

1.2 Changes to this notice

Amendments to this notice were required to make it suitable for publication on GOV.UK and to amend the address in paragraph 11.4.

1.3 Who should read this notice

You should read this notice if you’re registered for VAT and you make, or intend to make, supplies of second-hand vehicles.

1.4 Force of law

The VAT (Cars) Order 1992 requires businesses who sell vehicles under the Margin Scheme to keep the records and accounts detailed in sections 4 and 5 of this notice. All of sections 4 and 5 have legal force and supplement the law.

2. The Margin Scheme on second-hand cars and other vehicles

2.1 How the Margin Scheme works

If you sell second-hand vehicles on which you were not charged VAT, using the Margin Scheme will save you money.

Without the Margin Scheme, you would have to account for VAT on the full selling price of each vehicle.

But, if you use the Margin Scheme, you can account for VAT on the difference between the price you pay for a second-hand vehicle and the price you sell it for.

If you sell a vehicle for less than you paid for it, you will not have to account for any VAT on the sale.

2.2 Conditions for using the Margin Scheme

You do not have to use the Margin Scheme, it’s optional.

If you decide to use it, there are a number of conditions you will have to meet. If you cannot meet all the conditions, you cannot use the scheme.

The detailed conditions are explained throughout this notice. The main ones are:

  • the vehicles must be eligible (see paragraph 2.3)
  • you must have acquired the vehicles in eligible circumstances - in most cases, this means that you have obtained eligible vehicles for resale in circumstances where VAT was not chargeable (see paragraph 2.4)
  • you must calculate the margin in accordance with the rules of the scheme, there are special rules about how to calculate your buying price, your selling price and your margin under the scheme, you margin may not be the same as your profit margin (see paragraph 3.3)
  • you must meet the record-keeping rules of the scheme, there are special rules about invoicing and stock records (see sections 4 and 5)

2.3 Vehicles that are eligible for the Margin Scheme

Only second-hand vehicles can be sold under the Margin Scheme. Under the legal definition of second-hand goods, a second-hand motor vehicle is one which:

  • has been driven on the road for business or pleasure purposes
  • is suitable for further use as it is or after repair

2.4 When you can use the Margin Scheme

You can only use the Margin Scheme if both:

  • the vehicle is eligible
  • you bought it in eligible circumstances

You can use the Margin Scheme for second-hand vehicles you have bought from:

  • private individuals in the UK or another EC member state
  • businesses not registered for VAT
  • dealers or businesses who were unable to reclaim the input VAT on purchase
  • VAT-registered dealers, if sold to you under the Margin Scheme (this should be clear from the invoice you receive)
  • VAT-registered dealers in other member states, if supplied to you under a Margin Scheme
  • Motability - for which you have an invoice showing VAT charged at the zero rate

You cannot use the Margin Scheme for:

  • new vehicles (registration and delivery mileage do not make a vehicle ‘used’ for Margin Scheme purposes)
  • new means of transport purchased from other member states - new means of transport are always liable to VAT in the member state of destination
  • any vehicle purchased on an invoice which shows VAT separately - regardless of whether you reclaim the VAT
  • vehicles bought from registered dealers in other member states which have not been supplied under a Margin Scheme
  • imported vehicles - including vehicles collected on your behalf
  • category A and B write-off vehicles, or any vehicle which is subject to the End Of Life Directive

2.5 Making sales under the normal VAT rules and the Margin Scheme

You can use the Margin Scheme for some of your sales and the normal rules for others.

But, if you have sold a vehicle under the normal VAT rules (that is, you have charged VAT on the full selling price), you cannot go back and apply the Margin Scheme to that sale later.

2.6 How the Margin Scheme affects VAT on overheads

You can reclaim the VAT you are charged on any business overheads, repairs, parts or accessories. But you must not add any of these costs to the purchase price of the vehicles you sell under the scheme.

See paragraph 3.2 for more detailed information on how to calculate your purchase price.

2.7 Buying vehicles from online auction sites

If you buy a second-hand vehicle from an online auction site, you’re responsible for finding out whether the:

  • person selling the vehicle is VAT registered
  • vehicle is eligible to be sold under the Margin Scheme

If the vehicle is eligible, and you want to sell it under the scheme, you must keep all the records described in section 5.

2.8 The Margin Scheme if you were charged VAT

You cannot use the Margin Scheme if you bought a vehicle second-hand and you:

  • reclaimed VAT
  • were entitled to reclaim VAT

You must account for VAT on the full selling price under the normal rules.

This includes

  • import VAT charged on vehicles purchased from a third country
  • acquisition tax chargeable on purchases from dealers in other EC member states

3. Making your Margin Scheme calculations

3.1 Calculate your selling price

Your selling price is everything which you are to receive for the vehicle, whether from the buyer or a third party. It includes:

  • incidental expenses directly linked to the sale, for example, where you have had to pay for an MOT to make the vehicle saleable
  • accessories fitted prior to the sale

Disbursements do not form part of the selling price, these should be accounted for separately outside the Margin Scheme. Section 9 contains information on how you should treat linked insurance products and warranties.

The consideration you receive may not be wholly in money, if that is the case, the normal rules about value in VAT guide (VAT Notice 700).

3.2 Calculate your purchase price

Your purchase price is everything which you had to pay for the vehicle, it will mirror the rules for the selling price described in paragraph 3.1.

You must not include any cost to you of bringing the vehicle to sale. Your purchase price does not include the cost of any repairs, refurbishment, accessories or your business overheads.

For example, if you purchase new parts and fit them to a car, you must not add the cost of those parts to the purchase price of the car. You must use the original price you paid for the car when you calculate the margin for the purposes of the scheme.

The Margin Scheme taxes the difference between what you paid for the vehicle and what you sold it for, not the overall profit you have made on it.

3.3 Calculate the margin

Under the Margin Scheme, you only have to account for VAT when you sell a vehicle for more than you paid for it.

To work out the VAT due on an individual sale, follow the steps in the example:

Term Amount
(a) Purchase price £1,500.00
(b) Selling price £2,000.00
(c) Gross margin (b - a) £500.00
(d) VAT payable (c × 1/6) £83.33

The VAT fraction allows you to calculate the amount of VAT included in a given sum of money.

A standard rate of VAT of 20% gives a ‘VAT fraction’ of 1/6. When you have worked out your gross margin, multiply the figure by 1, then divide by 6.

4. Buying and selling vehicles under the Margin Scheme

The rules in this section have the force of law.

4.1 What to do when you buy a vehicle

The table lists the steps you must follow when you buy a vehicle for resale under the Margin Scheme.

Step Action Details
1 Check that the vehicle is eligible for the scheme. See section 2 for these rules.
2 Obtain a purchase invoice. If you are buying from a private individual or an unregistered business, you must make out the invoice yourself and include the details in paragraph 5.3.
3 Enter the purchase details of the vehicle in your stock book under the appropriate headings. The purchase price must be the one you agreed with the seller. You must not alter this price and you must not add the cost of repair, refurbishment or business overheads to it.

If you buy a number of vehicles as a single lot but intend to sell them separately, you must allocate a purchase price to each item.

4.2 What to do when you sell a vehicle

The table lists the steps you must follow when you buy a vehicle for resale under the Margin Scheme.

Step Action Details
1 Check first that you have followed all of the rules relating to the purchase of the vehicle. See paragraph 4.1. If you have not, you cannot use the Margin Scheme.
2 Make out a sales invoice. The invoice must include all of the details in paragraph 5.3.
3 Enter the sales details of the vehicle in your stock book under the appropriate headings.  
4 Issue the invoice to your customer and keep a copy for your records. If you include more than one vehicle on the same sales invoice, you must allocate a selling price to each one.

5. Records and accounts

The rules in this section have the force of law

5.1 Records you must keep

Record keeping (VAT Notice 700/21) gives guidance on the general records you must keep if you are registered for VAT.

If you use the Margin Scheme, there are some additional record keeping rules which apply to your stock book and invoices - paragraphs 5.2 to 5.3 give details.

These additional rules exist so that HMRC officers can use your records to check the margin you have achieved on each vehicle you have sold. It’s important that you keep to these rules so that you can continue using the margin scheme. If HMRC cannot check the margins you have declared from your records, VAT will be due on the full selling price of the vehicles you’ve supplied, even if they were otherwise eligible for the scheme. If you are not sure whether your records meet the Margin Scheme rules, please call the VAT general enquiries helpline.

5.2 Records you must keep in your stock books

You must keep your stock book up to date and it must include all of the information in the table. This applies to each vehicle you purchase for resale under the Margin Scheme. You may, if you wish, include further information for your own accounting purposes.

Purchase details Sales details
Stock number in numerical sequence  
Date of purchase Date of sale
Purchase invoice number Sales invoice number
Purchase price Selling price, or method of disposal
Name of seller Name of buyer
Vehicle registration number  
Description of the vehicle (for example, make and model)  
  Margin on sale (sales price less purchase price)
  VAT due (margin × VAT fraction - 1/6)

You must include your Margin Scheme calculations under the appropriate headings in your stock book. If your purchase price is higher than, or the same as, your selling price, then no VAT will be due. In these circumstances you should show the VAT due as ‘nil’ in your stock book.

You must not offset any VAT on vehicles which are sold at a loss against VAT on vehicles which you have sold at a profit.

An example of a Margin Scheme stock book is included at section 6.

5.3 Information you need to put on your Margin Scheme invoices

The information in the table must always appear on the invoices you receive, or issue.

If you are buying from a private individual or an unregistered business, you must make out the purchase invoice yourself.

Purchase invoices Sales invoices
seller’s name and address your name, address and VAT registration number
your name and address the buyer’s name and address
a means of cross-referencing between the sales system and the stock book, for example, the stock book number a means of cross-referencing between the sales system and the stock book, for example, the stock book number
invoice number (unless you made out the purchase invoice yourself) invoice number
date of transaction date of transaction
a description of the vehicle, including its registration number a description of the vehicle, including its registration number
total price - you must not add any other costs to this price total price - you must not show VAT separately
if you have bought the vehicle from another VAT-registered business:
Scheme - second-hand goods
Scheme - second-hand goods

If you have received a purchase invoice which shows that VAT has been charged on the vehicle, then the vehicle is not eligible to be sold under the Margin Scheme - regardless of whether you have claimed the VAT.

5.4 Filling in your VAT Return

You will need to fill in a VAT Return at the end of each tax period. Here are the special rules you must follow for any vehicles which you have bought or sold under the Margin Scheme during the tax period:

  • box 1 - include the output tax due on all eligible vehicles sold in the period covered by the return
  • box 6 - include the full selling price of all eligible vehicles sold in the period, less any VAT due on the margin
  • box 7 - include the full purchase price of eligible vehicles bought in the period

There is no requirement to include Margin Scheme purchases or sales in boxes 8 and 9 of your VAT Return.

Further guidance on how to fill in VAT Returns is available in How to fill in and submit your VAT Return (VAT Notice 700/12).

5.5 How long you must keep records

Generally, you must keep all your business records for VAT purposes for at least 6 years. If the 6 year rule causes you serious storage problems or undue expense, please call the VAT general enquiries helpline. You may be allowed to keep some records for a shorter period.

5.6 Records you must keep for goods on sale or return

If your stock includes vehicles supplied to you on a sale or return basis see paragraph 14.4 of the VAT guide, you must include, in your stock book or in a separate record, the following details for each vehicle:

  • the date of transfer of the vehicle
  • description of the vehicle, including its registration number
  • the name and address of the dealer or person transferring the vehicle
  • the date of sale or return

Similarly, if any vehicles are removed from your stock on a sale or return basis to another dealer’s premises, you should note your stock record with the date and details of the dealer to whom you have transferred the vehicles.

If you sell a vehicle on behalf of a third party, and you issue an invoice for that vehicle in your own name, you are acting as an agent for VAT purposes and you must account for any output tax on the sale. You can find out more about agents and the Margin Scheme in The Margin and Global Accounting Scheme (VAT Notice 718).

5.7 Invoices in foreign currencies

If you are buying and selling an eligible vehicle in a foreign currency (including euro), you must convert the price into sterling in order to calculate your margin.

Term Description
Purchase invoices If you buy a number of vehicles at an inclusive price and do not intend to sell them as one lot, you must convert the price to sterling and then apportion this amount between the vehicles.
You must then enter the sterling amounts in your stock record on a vehicle by vehicle basis.
Sales invoices If you issue a sales invoice in a foreign currency, the invoice must also show the sterling equivalent of the selling price.
If the invoice covers more than one vehicle, it must show the price, both in foreign currency and sterling, for each vehicle. You must then enter the sterling amounts in your stock record on a vehicle by vehicle basis.
If, however, you are selling as one lot vehicles which you bought as one lot, you need only show a total foreign currency and sterling value for that lot.

To convert amounts in foreign currencies you must use one of the methods outlined in VAT guide (VAT Notice 700). Whichever method you choose, you must use the exchange rate which was current at the time the transaction took place.

6. Example of a Margin Scheme stock book

Example:

Purchase details      
1 2 3 4
Stock number Date of purchase Purchase invoice no Purchase price
100 01/02/08 50 £2,500
Purchase details    
5 6 7
Name of seller Vehicle registration no Description of vehicle
Mr J Smith R123ABC Ford Fiesta 1.4L
Sales details   Accounting details        
8 9 10   11 12 13
Date of sale Sales invoice number Name of buyer   Selling price Margin (11-4) VAT due (12 × 1/6)
31/03/08 150 Mr F Bloggs   £3,000 £500 £83.33

7. The Global Accounting Scheme

7.1 What the Global Accounting Scheme is

Global accounting is an optional, simplified variation of the normal Margin Scheme. Under global accounting, VAT is accounted for on the margin achieved on total eligible sales less total eligible purchases in each VAT period.

Individual items sold under global accounting must have a purchase price of £500 or less.

This notice does not deal with the general rules for using global accounting. For detailed information on the Global Accounting Scheme, including the record keeping requirements, please see The Margin and Global Accounting Scheme (VAT Notice 718).

7.2 Vehicles and the Global Accounting Scheme

Motor vehicles are excluded from being sold under the Global Accounting Scheme.

7.3 Sales of scrap

Motor vehicles which would be eligible for sale under the Margin Scheme may be included in the Global Accounting Scheme if they are sold on as scrap.

You must keep the normal commercial documentation to show that the vehicle no longer exists and that the parts are therefore eligible for global accounting.

If then
the vehicle has already been entered into your second-hand stock book you should close the entry and transfer the details to your global accounting purchase records
you buy a scrap motor vehicle for more than £500 you can still use the Global Accounting Scheme for disposal of the components.

However, any individual component valued at over £500 must be excluded from global accounting
you’re charged VAT separately when you buy a vehicle you cannot sell any scrap parts from that vehicle under either Global Accounting or the Margin Scheme.

8. Buying and selling vehicles at auction

8.1 Who should read this section

You should read this section if you:

  • sell second-hand vehicles under the Margin Scheme
  • buy or sell vehicles through auctions

8.2 Using the Margin Scheme for eligible vehicles bought at auction

If you want to use the Margin Scheme (or global accounting, if you’re buying vehicles for scrap) for the onward sale of a vehicle you have bought at auction, you must check whether the vehicle you want to buy is eligible for onward sale under the scheme.

You should be able to find this out from the auctioneer’s sales catalogue.

If the auctioneer charges VAT separately on the hammer price of a vehicle you buy, you will not be able to use the Margin Scheme or global accounting for your onward sale.

8.3 Work out the purchase price of eligible vehicles bought at auction

Your purchase price will be the hammer price of the vehicle plus charges for services.

The invoice you get from the auctioneer will itemise, for each lot you have bought, the hammer price of the goods and any charges for services (for example, buyer’s premium). These charges must not show VAT separately.

This will be your purchase price for the purposes of the Margin Scheme or global accounting, and is the amount that you must show in your stock book. It should be clearly identified on the invoice you get from the auctioneer.

If the auctioneer bills you for any other services, and charges VAT on them separately, you can reclaim the VAT under the normal rules. You must not add those charges to your own Margin Scheme purchase price. To avoid confusion, you may want to ask the auctioneer to provide you with a separate invoice for such charges.

If you are in any doubt about what your Margin Scheme purchase price should be for a vehicle you have bought at auction, you should check with the auctioneer.

8.4 Indemnity fees

When you buy a vehicle at auction, you will usually be charged an indemnity fee. This is a charge which ensures that you will have compensation or indemnity if the vehicle you have bought is later found to have been stolen or to have finance outstanding on it.

You must not include the indemnity fee in your purchase price for Margin Scheme purposes.

8.5 Work out the selling price of eligible vehicles sold at auction

Before the sale is due to take place, you should discuss with the auctioneer whether you want it to be treated under the Auctioneers’ Scheme or under the normal Margin Scheme. (The Auctioneers’ Scheme is a special variation on the normal Margin Scheme. It works by creating a margin which is equal to the auctioneer’s charge for his services to both the vendor and the purchaser.)

If the auctioneer uses The invoice will include Your Margin Scheme selling price will be
The Auctioneers’ Scheme The hammer price of the goods.

His commission charges.

The net amount payable to you.

None of these amounts should show VAT separately.

Any other charges for services must be invoiced separately.
The hammer price less the commission charge.
The Margin Scheme The hammer price of the goods.

VAT must not be shown separately on this amount.

The auctioneer’s commission and any other charges for services must be invoiced separately.
The hammer price.

Your selling price for Margin Scheme purposes should be easy to identify from the invoice you receive. You should check with the auctioneer if you are in any doubt.

If the Auctioneers’ Scheme is used, you will be invoiced separately for any other charges.

If the Margin Scheme is used, you will be invoiced separately for:

  • the auctioneer’s commission
  • any other charges

You can reclaim the VAT on these invoices under the normal rules but you must not deduct the charges from your Margin Scheme selling price.

9. Linked insurance products and warranties

9.1 What linked insurance products and warranties are

A linked insurance product is a contract of insurance between an insurer (usually someone other than yourself) and the purchaser of a vehicle. The contract will provide cover against particular risks.

Linked insurance products include:

  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
  • Guaranteed Asset Protection
  • key, wheel and tyre cover
  • paint and fabric damage cover

A warranty is an undertaking, or guarantee, which you give to your customer that, if goods should prove to be faulty within a specified time or mileage limit, you will bear the cost of providing the appropriate repairs or replacement parts.

The situations which can commonly arise are described below, together with the appropriate VAT treatment.

If you arrange linked insurance products for your customers, you should read Insurance (VAT Notice 701/36) in addition to the rest of this section.

In addition, insurance-backed warranties, Mechanical Breakdown Insurance policies and similar products, are subject to the Higher Rate of Insurance Premium Tax. Generally, insurers account for Insurance Premium Tax (IPT). However, if you make a charge in connection with this type of insurance, you may need to register and account for IPT on those charges. Some specific information is included in this section and you can find further information on the higher rate of IPT in Notice IPT1: Insurance Premium Tax.

9.2 Including linked insurance products or warranties in the price of a vehicle

If you provide your customer with a ‘free’ linked insurance product or warranty then the selling price of the vehicle for Margin Scheme purposes includes the cost to you of supplying the product.

Any mention of the linked insurance product on your invoice must show that no separate charge is being made.

The price of the vehicle shown on the sales invoice to the customer must be the same as that entered in your stock book.

9.3 Making a separate charge for a linked insurance product

If you arrange linked insurance products for your customer to purchase, you’re acting as an agent of the insurance company. The VAT treatment depends on whether any risk covered by the insurance policy is yours or your customer’s.

9.3.1 When the charge is exempt

The supply of the linked insurance product is exempt if it satisfies the following conditions:

  • it is supplied under a contract of insurance between an insurer and your customer
  • it is your customer’s risks which are insured
  • your customer is entirely free to purchase the vehicle without the insurance product
  • you disclose the insurance premium and any other amount (fees or commission) being charged (see Insurance (VAT Notice 701/36)) to the customer

Under these conditions, there are separate supplies of the vehicle and the insurance, each with its own consideration.

Your selling price for the purposes of calculating the margin on the vehicle must not include the charge for the insurance product.

9.3.2 When the charge is standard-rated

If the insurance contract is between you and the insurer, and only your risk of having to repair defective items is covered, then the supply is standard-rated.

You must account for VAT on the:

  • margin (if there is one) on the vehicle under the Margin Scheme
  • standard-rated ‘insurance’ charge outside the Margin Scheme

9.3.3 VAT rating a linked insurance product in more complicated circumstances

The table gives you the rules you must follow in other situations.

If then
you subsequently negotiate with the customer a reduced price for the vehicle (including the linked insurance product) the exempt premium payable for the linked insurance product remains unchanged.
negotiations with the customer result in the supply of an upgraded linked insurance product with an increased premium due from the customer you must itemise the product separately and show the increased exempt premium.
you advertise the vehicle and the linked insurance product at a single price, that is you do not disclose to the customer the amount of the premium any fee or commission income you receive in relation to this insurance is standard-rated.

The net premium paid to and retained by the insurer remains exempt.

You must only show the selling price of the vehicle, net of the insurance, in your stock book.

See paragraph 9.6, example 2.

In all cases, the value shown on the sales invoice for the vehicle itself must be the same as that entered in your stock book.

You can find further information on the implications of these arrangements for IPT in Notice IPT1: Insurance Premium Tax.

9.4 Making a separate charge for a warranty

If you provide a warranty, and make a separate charge for it, that charge will be standard-rated.

Your selling price for the purposes of calculating the margin on the vehicle must not include the charge for the warranty.

You must account for VAT on the:

  • margin (if there is one) on the vehicle under the Margin Scheme
  • standard-rated charge for the warranty outside the Margin Scheme

The value shown on the sales invoice for the vehicle must be the same as that entered in your stock book.

9.5 Supplies made under other schemes

The supply of a warranty or a linked ‘insurance’ product under any other type of scheme is standard-rated.

For example, a dealer may set up a ‘fund’ into which amounts charged to customers for warranties are paid, and from which repair claims are met. The dealer may obtain insurance cover against any deficiency in the fund. These policies are covered by arrangements commonly known as ‘stop-loss’. In such circumstances, there is no contract of insurance between the insurer and the customer purchasing an item. Only the dealer’s risk is insured, so any charge to the customer will be taxable at the standard rate.

9.6 Examples

Example 1

In this example, the amount due under the contract of insurance is £200 (the net amount payable to the insurer is £120 and the commission you retain is £80).

If then the VAT treatment is
the gross premium (£200) is disclosed to the customer £200 exempt, consisting of

£120 net exempt premium which you, as agent, pass to the insurance provider, and

£80 exempt commission, which you keep.
the gross premium is not disclosed to customer £120 net exempt premium which you, as agent, pass to the insurance provider, and

£80 standard-rated commission, which you keep. You must account for the VAT on this outside the Margin Scheme.

In this example, IPT is due on the gross premium of £200.

If then
you disclose the gross premium to the insurance provider they will account for the IPT.
you choose not to disclose the commission (£80) to the insurance provider you may be liable to register and account for the higher rate of IPT (17.5%) on this amount in addition to any VAT that may be due.

Example 2

In addition to the £200 in example 1, you charge the customer a fee of £50 for arranging the insurance-backed product.

If then the VAT treatment is
the value of both:

the amount due under the contract and

the fee

are disclosed to the customer
£250 exempt, consisting of:

£120 net exempt premium which you, as agent, pass to the insurance provider, plus

£80 exempt commission and

£50 exempt fee, both of which you keep
either:

only the value of the amount due under the contract of insurance is disclosed, and not the fee, or

only the fee is disclosed and not the amount due under the contract of insurance
£120 net exempt premium, which you, as agent, pass to the insurance provider, plus

£80 standard-rated commission, and

£50 standard-rated fee, both of which you keep.

You must account for the VAT on these charges outside the Margin Scheme.

In this example, IPT is due on £250.

If then
the whole charge is made under the contract of insurance, and

you disclose the gross premium to the insurance provider
they will account for the IPT.
you do not disclose the commission (£80) to the insurance provider, and/or

the £50 fee is charged under a separate contract between you and your customer
you must register and account for IPT on these amounts in addition to any VAT that may be due.

If you receive a lot of VAT-exempt income from providing linked insurance products, there is a possibility that your business may be partially exempt. See Partial exemption (VAT Notice 706) for more information.

10. Other issues which may affect your Margin Scheme calculations

10.1 Relief for bad debts

If you supply goods and do not receive payment within certain time limits, you may claim relief from VAT on the ‘bad debt’. You will find full details of the time limits and conditions for claiming in Relief from VAT on bad debts (VAT Notice 700/18).

Under the Margin Scheme, the amount of VAT on which you claim relief cannot exceed the amount of VAT previously accounted for on the margin. This is best explained by 2 examples based on the following figures:

Vehicle purchased for: £400
Vehicle sold for: £500
Margin on which VAT is paid to HMRC: £100
VAT payable (£100 × 1/6) = £16.66

Example 1

The customer only pays £350 leaving a debt of £150. The debt is greater than the margin so the potential bad debt relief is £100 (the margin) × 1/6 = £16.66.

Example 2

The customer pays £450 leaving a debt of only £50. This debt is less than the margin so the potential bad debt relief is £50 (the debt) × 1/6 = £8.33.

If you receive payment from your customer after making a claim for bad debt relief, you must refund the appropriate amount to HMRC.

10.2 How to treat MOTs

If you sell a second-hand car with an MOT, you’re making a single supply.

You should not deduct the value of the MOT from your Margin Scheme selling price.

You should record the full selling price, including the MOT, in your stock book, and you should use this figure for calculating the margin on the sale.

10.3 How to treat road fund licences

If you then
buy a vehicle for resale under the Margin Scheme and you surrender its unexpired road fund licence for a refund you must not adjust the purchase price of the vehicle by the amount of that refund
sell a vehicle with an unexpired licence, or

offer a road fund licence as part of an agreed sale price
you are making a single supply.

You must include the value of the licence in the selling price entered in your stock book
agree to obtain the licence on behalf of the customer, after negotiating the sale of a car you may treat the licence as a separate supply, provided you can meet the conditions for a disbursement as explained in VAT guide (VAT Notice 700).

If you cannot meet those conditions, the car and licence are treated as a single supply and you must calculate your margin on the total, combined value

10.4 How to treat vehicles you take in part-exchange

10.4.1 Selling price

If you sell an eligible vehicle and take another in part-exchange, then you must not reduce the selling price on which you calculate your margin by the value of the part-exchanged vehicle.

For example, you sell a car for £2,500 which you bought for £1,500.

You take a car in part-exchange which you value at £200. The customer pays the balance of £2,300.

The selling price you insert in your stock book must be £2,500 and you must account for VAT on the full margin of £1,000.

10.4.2 Purchase price

When you take a second-hand commercial vehicle in part-exchange, it’s important to check whether your customer is VAT registered. If your customer is registered for VAT, they must issue you with a sales invoice.

As with all vehicles you plan to sell, you must check whether the vehicle you take in part-exchange is eligible to be sold on under the Margin Scheme (see paragraph 2.4).

If the vehicle is eligible for the Margin Scheme, you must include its details on the purchase side of your stock book. In the example, your purchase price would be £200. You must not alter this purchase price.

If you over-allow on the value of the vehicle you have taken in part-exchange, your purchase price for the purposes of the Margin Scheme must be the one you agreed with your customer and which appears on the sales invoice.

For example, you sell a car for £3,500 which you bought for £2,000.

You take a car in part-exchange for which you allow £800, so the customer pays the balance of £2,700. However, the book value of the part-exchange is only £600.

The purchase price in your Margin Scheme stock book must be £800.

10.4.3 Points to watch

If you buy from a private person, or from a business which is not registered for VAT, you may include the details of the part-exchange vehicle on your sales invoice provided all the requirements of paragraph 5.3 are met.

If you take a low value car in part-exchange, and sell it for parts (either useable parts, or parts as scrap metal), you cannot account for those sales under the Margin Scheme.

If you sell it for useable parts, you must account for VAT on the full selling price of each item sold.

See section 7 for the rules to follow when you sell an entire vehicle to be broken into scrap or break a vehicle into parts.

10.5 How to treat hire-purchase sales

10.5.1 Who your customer is

If you sell an eligible vehicle and arrange hire-purchase (HP) terms with a finance company on behalf of your customer, then you’re deemed to be selling the vehicle to the finance company.

10.5.2 Sales records you need to keep

You must transfer the sales price of the item from the HP documentation to your stock book.

If then you must
you have issued your own sales invoice to your customer, and

you have a copy of the HP agreement
either

attach a copy of the completed HP agreement to the sales invoice, or

include a cross-reference to the HP agreement in your sales records
the finance company holds the HP agreement and you do not get a copy of it for your records keep a copy of

the agreed quotation, or

the agreed proposal documents

together with:

the name of the finance company

the date, and

the reference number of the final agreement

in your sales records

You may use a copy of the HP agreement as your sales invoice provided it shows:

  • all the identifying details of the item
  • the cash price of the item as the gross price payable

(The gross price is the amount borrowed plus any cash deposit paid, plus any amount allowed for a part-exchange item.)

VAT must not be shown separately on either the:

  • HP agreement
  • customer’s sales invoice

10.5.3 The selling price for a hire-purchase vehicle

The values shown on any documentation raised to the finance company must always be the same as the values declared to HMRC in your books and records. This includes the value of any part-exchange vehicle or cash deposit paid by the customer.

10.6 Vehicles you have rebuilt

If you build a vehicle from one or more used vehicles which you acquired under eligible circumstances, and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) does not require it to be re-registered, you can sell it under the Margin Scheme. The purchase price you enter in your stock book is the price you paid for the vehicle for which the registration number is carried forward.

If you construct a vehicle from the used components and parts of other vehicles, and the DVLA gives it a new registration number, you cannot use the Margin Scheme. You must account for VAT on the full selling price.

10.7 Eligible vehicles bought from an insurance company or finance house

If you buy an eligible vehicle from an insurance company which has acquired it as a result of an insurance claim, or a finance house which has repossessed it, you will not be charged VAT provided that both:

  • the vehicle is sold on to you in exactly the same state
  • it was obtained by the insurance company or finance house from a person who would not have charged VAT on its supply (for example, a private individual)

You can resell such vehicles using the Margin Scheme provided you meet the conditions in paragraph 2.2.

10.8 Selling vehicles that have been adapted for a disabled person

There would be no benefit to you in selling a zero-rated vehicle under the Margin Scheme. You can sell the vehicle outside the Margin Scheme by closing its entry in your Margin Scheme stock book. You should refer in your stock book to the reason why you have closed the entry. You can then raise an invoice for the vehicle in the usual way, as you would do for any sale you make outside the Margin Scheme.

You can find more information about when vehicles adapted for use by a disabled person will be zero-rated in VAT relief on adapted motor vehicles for disabled people and charities (VAT Notice 1002).

10.9 High value vehicles sold for cash

Accepting cash payments for the second-hand vehicles you sell will not affect your Margin Scheme calculations. However, if you sell a vehicle for the equivalent of 15,000 euros or more, and take payment for it in cash, you will need to register with HMRC as a high value dealer for more information.

10.10 How to deal with gifts

You cannot use the Margin Scheme when you sell a vehicle which was given to you. You must account for VAT on the full selling price.

If you give away a vehicle which would have been eligible for sale under the Margin Scheme, no VAT is due. But you must include full details of the person you gave the car to in your stock book.

10.11 Selling a vehicle privately

The private sale of goods which are not assets of your business is usually outside the scope of VAT and no VAT is due.

However, you can use the Margin Scheme for the sale of an eligible vehicle if you:

  • are a sole proprietor
  • sell an eligible vehicle (see paragraph 2.3) which you transfer to your business from your private holdings

You must be able to produce evidence of what the purchase price was when you bought it for your private use. If you cannot do this, you must account for VAT on the full sales value.

10.12 If you only make occasional sales of eligible vehicles

If you are not in business to buy and sell second-hand vehicles, but you very occasionally find yourself with a eligible one to sell and you would like to use the Margin Scheme for the sale, then you need not comply with the full record-keeping requirements in section 5, provided you:

  • meet the other conditions of the scheme
  • hold evidence of both the purchase and selling price

10.13 Personal Export Scheme

The Personal Export Scheme allows entitled customers to buy a new or used motor vehicle in the UK free of VAT for export outside the EC. If you want to sell vehicles under the scheme, you will need to read Personal Export Scheme (VAT Notice 707) for removal from the EC.

11. Transfer of a going concern and assignments of rights

11.1 What happens if you take over a business as a going concern

If you obtain vehicles under a transfer of a going concern, no VAT will be chargeable on the transfer. However, this does not necessarily mean that you will be able to sell the vehicles on under the Margin Scheme.

You will only be able to use the scheme if the last person to obtain the vehicles, other than by way of a transfer of a going concern or an assignment of rights, would have been entitled to use the Margin Scheme to sell them.

Where there has been a succession of transfer of going concerns or assignments or a mixture of both, it’s the first person in that chain who must have been entitled to use the Margin Scheme themselves.

11.2 Records you must keep if you transfer a business as a going concern

From 1 September 2007, the seller of a transfer of a going concern retains the records. However:

  • the seller must make available to the buyer any information the buyer needs to comply with his duties under the VAT Act 1994
  • where the buyer applies to HMRC for permission to take on the seller’s VAT number, the seller is still required to transfer the records to the buyer, if the seller needs to retain the records, they may apply to HMRC for permission to do so

The records will include the purchase invoices for stock on hand. You will be able to tell from these invoices whether or not the vehicles are eligible to be sold the scheme.

If the transferor of the vehicles bought them on Margin Scheme invoices, you will be able to sell them under the scheme.

If the transferor bought them on invoices showing VAT, then they are not eligible for the scheme and you will have to account for VAT on the full selling price when you sell them.

So it is in your own interest when you buy a business as a transfer of a going concern to:

  • check the position with the seller
  • make sure that you have the records you need if the vehicles are eligible to be sold under the Margin Scheme

11.3 Rules that apply to banks and financial institutions

If you’re a bank or a financial institution, and you have acquired eligible vehicles as a result of having been assigned the rights to them in hire purchase or conditional sale agreements, then you can only use the Margin Scheme to sell those vehicles if the last person to obtain them, other than by way of an assignment of rights or a transfer of a going concern, would have been entitled to use the Margin Scheme.

Where there has been a succession of assignments or transfers of a going concern, or a mixture of both, it is therefore the first person in that chain who must have been entitled to use the Margin Scheme.

11.4 Work out what the Margin Scheme purchase price will be

Your purchase price will be the price paid when the eligible vehicle was bought by the person in the chain who was entitled to use the Margin Scheme to sell it themselves.

You will be able to identify the original purchase price from the purchase invoices which will form part of the business records.

When you buy a business as a a transfer of a going concern, you must ensure that you have the necessary records to enable you to calculate a margin. You will always need the purchase invoices. You may enter the vehicles obtained under a transfer of a going concern into your own stock record if the original stock record is retained by the transferor of the business.

If you have obtained goods under a transfer of a going concern from a bank or financial institution, and that body had obtained those goods when they were assigned the rights in a hire purchase or conditional sale agreement, the records which are usually kept in relation to these transactions should provide the necessary information.

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Published 26 January 2016