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A GUIDE TO THE NEW GIFT VOUCHER VAT CHANGES

Is this the end of vouchers for your business?

Does your company give gift vouchers as part of its employee recognition or incentive schemes? If so, you need to be aware that UK VAT rules have changed and your company can no longer claim back the VAT on gift cards purchased.

This 20% increase in the cost of gift cards is likely to come as a surprise to many companies as the demand for gift cards has continued to increase in recent years. Annual sales for gift cards and vouchers had been on the rise. According to Mercator, sales stood at £6 billion in 2017 with projections of that figure reaching £7.4 billion.

New VAT rules on gift vouchers were introduced on 1st January 2019. Unfortunately, every company using vouchers will have to learn some new and quite complicated rules and definitions as well as suffering a hike in the cost of their vouchers.

Why the change?

Last year, HMRC explained that previous VAT rules on gift vouchers resulted in vouchers being taxed double or not taxed at all. The new rules now define how vouchers with a single and/or multi-purpose should be treated and crucially, when VAT should be applied.

New definitions

You may be already be familiar with the current definitions of Single Purpose Vouchers (SPVs) and Multi-Purpose Vouchers (MPVs). The new legislation will change the current definitions. SPVs are vouchers where the place of supply of the goods and services, and the vat liability on the supply are all known at time of issue. This will mean that many MPVs will now be considered as SPVs.

VAT will be due when it is issued and not when the goods or services are actually provided, VAT will always be due even if it is never used. As a result, potential business cost has increased.

The new VAT gift voucher changes, implemented at the start of the new year, will cause many businesses to re-evaluate whether vouchers are worth the extra cost and complication for what is quite a dated concept. B4B have created a simple infographic that breaks down the changes using an example.

Is there an alternative to vouchers?

The introduction of the new VAT laws will prompt many companies to re-evaluate whether vouchers are worth the extra cost and complication for what is quite a dated concept. Gift vouchers have several drawbacks that your employees or other recipients will find irritating.

Gift vouchers can usually be used at only one retailer which limits their choice. Also, expiry dates on gift vouchers can lead to frustration and disappointment if your recipients don’t use it in time.

B4B are the alternative

The changes to the VAT rules mean that gift vouchers are now treated the same as prepaid cards yet prepaid cards offer a number of advantages. Prepaid cards such as those offered by B4B Payments are accepted worldwide anywhere that accepts Mastercard payments.

Now is the ideal time to take a fresh look at how your company uses cards and the most effective way to reward employees and partners. To find out more about how prepaid cards can be a much simpler alternative to vouchers, contact us at 020 3137 3420 or info@b4bpayments.com

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Tax laws help you eliminate avoidable mistakes

The decision to adopt new digital technology is usually one that companies make for themselves – but next year a change to UK law will force many business owners to update their processes.

What is changing?

On April 1st 2019, the way business owners file their VAT returns is changing. Making Tax Digital will have an impact on the Tax system, transforming the administration process into a simple and more efficient process, ensuring that tax payments are as accurate as possible. VAT-registered businesses above the VAT threshold will be required to keep their records digitally and use software to help submit their tax returns digitally. More specific information can be found at gov.uk.

Why the change?

Not surprisingly, the main reason for the new Making Tax Digital law is that the UK Government believes it is missing out on a big chunk of VAT revenue.

According to Government figures, there is a shortfall of up to £9 billion in VAT revenues collected every year. Ultimately, HMRC wants to ‘become one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world.’ While few of us relish the prospect of paying more in tax, most of us would want to fix a leak in our business finances of that magnitude ASAP.

Eliminating ‘avoidable mistakes’

According to the Government, the main reason for the VAT accounting problems are ‘avoidable mistakes’ by those submitting financial paperwork. This problem is not confined to submitting figures for government use.

Companies who are still using paper-based systems and cash are creating huge potential for avoidable mistakes, scope for fraud and the need for expensive manual administration. For example, companies that ask employees to keep paper receipts for expense management purposes. On a global scale, companies are potentially losing out on $20 billion dollars of unclaimed VAT every year. At the same time, their employees are left frustrated and irritated at having to spend so much time on irritating manual processes.

Many companies have already cut out the margin for avoidable mistakes such as eliminating paper processes and cash in favour of digital technology. For others, it may be a painful transition, but it is likely to be those same companies who benefit most from the new rules in the long-term. Now is a great time to think about how Making Tax Digital could be your opportunity to take control of your financial processes and increase efficiency of your business.

The warning signs for a tough transition

Here are just a few signs that may indicate that the introduction of Making Tax Digital will be difficult for your business:

  • Cash is still being used for expense management
  • Your finance department is over-worked, spends too much time chasing paperwork and seems to lack control
  • Your employees are frustrated by having to keep and submit paper receipts in order to claim expenses

These are just a few legacy issues that are likely to make the transition to digital tax returns difficult, impact efficiency and increase administrative costs.

How can businesses prepare for Digital?

Start by eliminating cash processes from your business. For example, more companies are issuing prepaid cards to their employees for expense purposes. The entire process is digital, enables strict spending control and can be monitored in real-time. This helps to build efficient and accurate finance processes that eliminate any costly errors, whilst reporting in real time.

Also, look for ways to automate systems and processes such as through integration with packages such as Sage, Concur and Xero. Implementing an efficient and integrated digital finance system, frees up time for employees to focus on more critical and value-driven work, whilst enabling you to access previously unclaimed tax.

If Making Tax Digital looks like a major challenge to your business, start planning for it now. It could be your ideal opportunity to kick start a discussion within your business about shedding old processes and taking real control of your finances. Contact B4B for more information on how prepaid cards can be used to increase the efficiency and accuracy of your corporate expenses.

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B4B Payments granted FCA authorisation

B4B Payments has been granted Authorised Payment Institute (API) status by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

B4B Payments issues hundreds of thousands of prepaid cards across Europe. This new status will enable it to further enhance its product set and expand operations by offering additional payment services under its own licence whilst expanding the core functionality contained within its in-house software platform.

“We will continue to maintain our excellent relationships with our e-money BIN sponsorship partners and continue to grow the prepaid side of our business but this new status gives us increased access to the value chain and to offer additional payment services including bill payments to our wide ranging customer base,” said Paul Swinton, CEO, B4B Payments. “This is an exciting period of growth for B4B Payments as our main products have grown by over 200 percent in the last year and we are looking to expand further in 2018.

“Obtaining FCA authorisation was a natural next step for B4B Payments as many of the processes required have been in place for many years, however we would like to thank NeoPay for their support in helping with the application.”