Do you offer prompt payment discounts to your customers - known as PPDs?
Under UK law VAT is payable on the net amount after deducting the discount, whether or not the customer takes advantage of the discount.
Say you sell a carpet for £1,000 + VAT, and offer 3% discount if the customer pays with 10 days. VAT is charged at 20% on £970 ie £194, rather than as 20% of £1,000 which is £200. Even if the customer takes two weeks to pay and thus doesn't qualify for the PPD, the amount due will be £1194.
This is a ripe loophole ready for blocking, and that is exactly what the Government is going to do from 1 April 2015. From that date it is proposed that VAT will be due to the amount the customer actually pays. So in the example above where the customer doesn't take up the PPD he pays the full £1000 plus VAT of £200.
The PPD VAT-dodge has been widely exploited by suppliers of telecommunications and broadcasting services, so the use of PPDs to reduce VAT due has already been blocked in those sectors from 1 May 2014, where the customer can't recover the VAT charged. Those will be non-business customers.
If you offer PPDs you may need to change your sales software. We will keep you informed of the details of the changes, when they are announced nearer the time.