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VAT and gift vouchers

New draft legislation has been published as part of the draft Finance Bill 2018-19 that aims to change the VAT treatment of vouchers. The legislation will focus on bringing the UK VAT treatment of vouchers in line with that published in the EU directive. Notwithstanding the Brexit negotiations, the UK continues to be a member of the EU for the time being and this legislation will help remedy a long running saga concerning the VAT treatment of vouchers.

The new legislation is not concerned with the scope of VAT and whether VAT is due, but with the question of when VAT is due and – in the case of multi-purpose vouchers – the consideration upon which any VAT is payable. The changes will apply to any vouchers issued on, or after, 1 January 2019 and will introduce a common VAT treatment of vouchers across the EU.

The new rules will see a consistent approach to the VAT treatment of vouchers especially those that involve more complex scenarios: where vouchers can be used in the UK and across the EU. This will help ensure that the correct amount of VAT is charged irrespective of the payment method used. This in turn will help stop the double-taxation or non-taxation of goods or services purchased with the use of a voucher.

HMRC has said they will take a pragmatic approach to businesses experiencing any difficulties complying with the new rules especially as the changes will be implemented over the busy Christmas holiday period.

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