1. What you can and can’t reclaim

You can usually reclaim the VAT paid on goods and services purchased for use in your business.

If a purchase is also for personal or private use, you can only reclaim the business proportion of the VAT.

Examples

Half of your mobile phone calls are private. You can reclaim 50% of the VAT on the purchase price and the service plan.

You work from home and your office takes up 20% of the floor space in your house. You can reclaim 20% of the VAT on your utility bills.

You must keep records to support your claim and show how you arrived at the business proportion for a purchase. You must also have valid VAT invoices.

What you can’t reclaim

You can’t reclaim VAT for:

Purchases before registration

You may be able to reclaim VAT paid on goods or services bought before you registered for VAT if the purchases were made within certain time limits.

Partly exempt businesses

You need to make separate calculations for purchases that relate to both VAT-exempt and taxable supplies, eg phone bills or accountancy fees.

Business assets of £50,000 and more

There are special rules for reclaiming VAT for:

  • individual computers and single pieces of computer equipment costing £50,000 or more before VAT
  • aircraft, ships and boats costing £50,000 or more before VAT
  • land and buildings costing £250,000 or more before VAT

You may need to adjust the amount of VAT you reclaim over several years using the Capital Goods Scheme.

How your VAT refund is repaid

Log in to your HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online account to view any VAT refund you’re owed. Claim by submitting your VAT Return.

You need to give your account details to HMRC - even if you’ve already set up a direct debit for VAT Returns. Add or change them by going to the registration details in your VAT online account.

You will usually get your refund within 10 days of HMRC receiving your return but it may take longer. Only contact HMRC if you haven’t heard anything after 30 days.