Our Brexit Advisory team offer insight and guidance surrounding impacts and opportunities that Brexit has created for organisations.
We offer a dedicated team of experienced individuals with a focus on successfully executing transactions for corporates and financial institutions. We offer an integrated approach, with our corporate finance specialists working seamlessly with tax and other specialists to ensure that every angle is covered.
Grant Thornton offers solutions to the digital risk issues you are sure to face. Our skilled and experienced security team can helping by advising and consulting, giving you peace of mind, clear value for money and an enhanced ability to react to attacks.
Our all-island Economics Advisory team combines expertise in economics and business with a wealth of experience across the public and private sectors.
Grant Thornton are the leading provider of eDiscovery services in the country and have been for years. Our incident response team managed the electronic discovery in the largest eDiscovery in Irish history.
Forensic and Investigation Services
We have a different way of doing business by delivering real insight through a combination of technical rigour, commercial experience and intuitive judgment. We take pride in delivering responsive and tailored solutions to all our clients, capitalising on the wealth of experience housed within our Belfast and wider Forensics team
People and Change Consulting
The Grant Thornton People & Change Consulting practice works with clients on these issues as well as on all aspects of how they attract, retain, engage develop, deploy and lead their people.
We work with a wide variety of clients and stakeholders such as high street banks, private equity funds, directors, government agencies and creditors to implement solutions which provide the best possible outcomes.
Corporate and International tax
Northern Ireland businesses face further challenges as they operate in the only part of the UK that has a land border with a country offering a lower tax rate.
Our team specialises in remuneration and incentive planning and works closely with employers, shareholders and employees to ensure that business strategies are aligned and goals achieved in the most tax efficient, cost-effective manner.
Entrepreneur and private client taxes
Our team of experienced advisors are on hand to guide you through any decision or transaction ranging from the establishment of new business ventures, to realising value on exit, to succession planning and providing for loved ones.
Global Mobility Services
Grant Thornton offer a different approach to managing global mobility. We have brought together specialists from our tax, global payroll, people and change and financial accounting teams across Ireland and Northern Ireland, while drawing on the knowledge and insights of our global network of over 143 offices of mobility professionals to provide you with a holistic approach to managing global mobility.
Our outsourced service provides valued service to over 150 separate PAYE schemes. These ranging from 1 to 1000 employees, working for micro, SME and global employers. The service is supported by the integrated network of tax and global mobility teams and the wider Grant Thornton network delivering a seamless service. Experienced staff deliver a personal service built around your business needs.
Tax Disputes and Investigations
Our Tax Disputes and Investigation team is made up of tax experts and former HMRC investigators who have years of experience in dealing with a variety of tax investigations. Our expertise and insight can guide you through all interactions, keeping your cost at a minimum while allowing you to continue with the day to day running of your business.
VAT and Indirect taxes
At Grant Thornton (NI) LLP, our team helps Northern Ireland businesses manage their UK and global indirect tax risks which, as transactional taxes, can quickly become big liabilities.
The UK government has announced that there will be a deferral of VAT payments falling due between 20 March and 30 June 2020. This is part of a package of measures to support businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The deferral will apply automatically and no application is required, although businesses who pay by direct debit should cancel this with their bank as soon as possible.
For businesses on quarterly VAT returns, this will generally mean the deferral of one quarter’s VAT:
- the payment due on 7 April for businesses with a VAT period ending February 2020;
- the payment due on 7 May for businesses with a VAT period ending March 2020;
- the payment due on 7 June for businesses with a VAT period ending April 2020
For businesses on monthly VAT returns, the payments due for the February 2020, March 2020 and April 2020 VAT returns will be deferred. For payments on account traders, any payments due before 30 June 2020 will be deferred.
In all cases, VAT returns must still be filed on time as normal. HMRC have said that VAT refunds and reclaims will continue to be paid as usual in this period.
Businesses will be given until 31 March 2021 to pay any VAT liabilities accumulated during the deferral period.
HMRC have announced that non-UK businesses with a UK VAT registration will also benefit from the deferral.
Other points relating to the VAT deferral
- Interest – No interest or penalties will be due on deferred VAT payments provided they are paid by 31 March 2021.
- Import VAT – We understand from HMRC that import VAT arising on the import of goods into the UK from outside the EU during the deferral period will need to be paid as normal.
- Disclosures to HMRC – If a taxpayer makes a disclosure to HMRC during the deferral period (for example, relating to under-declared VAT in previous periods), we understand from HMRC that this would not qualify for the deferral – although these disclosures are likely to take some months to process in any event.
Other VAT measures businesses could take to assist cash-flow
Given that normal VAT rules apply to quarterly periods commencing 1 March, 1 April and 1 May, businesses should consider these further measures now.
- Time to Pay
At Budget 2020, the Chancellor announced that HMRC had set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to assist businesses in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities. Taxpayers should call this service to agree a bespoke ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement with HMRC. This can include agreeing an instalment arrangement, suspending debt collection proceedings, and cancelling penalties and interest if a business has difficulties paying HMRC immediately. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
This helpline may assist if a business has missed previous VAT payments, is making a disclosure for historic periods, or is still struggling to pay after the deferral period. HMRC are looking more favourably at ‘Time to Pay’ requests than they would do normally.
- Monthly VAT returns
There may be an advantage in switching to monthly VAT returns where your business regularly receives repayments of VAT from HMRC. This means you would receive a repayment every month or so, rather than having to wait three months. This is often of benefit to exporters or other businesses that make a significant proportion of zero-rated supplies.
You can make an application to HMRC to switch to monthly VAT returns.
- VAT bad debt relief
This relief may be claimed if a payment on which VAT was charged has been outstanding for more than six months, and the debt is written off in your accounting records as a bad debt. The VAT paid to HMRC may be reclaimed on your next VAT return.
A claim must be made within 4 years and six months of when the payment was due and payable (or the date of the supply, if later).
Businesses should consider whether there any historic bad debts they could claim for, with a view to including these on their first VAT return not covered by the deferral period.
- Paying purchase invoices net of VAT
Some businesses have asked their suppliers whether they can pay any invoices net of VAT, on the basis the suppliers should benefit from the deferral of their liability to pay the VAT to HMRC. Under this arrangement, the customer would typically agree to pay the supplier the VAT in the future before the VAT is actually due to HMRC. This could amount to a significant cash-flow advantage for the customer (but would equally remove the cash-flow advantage of the deferral for the supplier).
Care must be taken here, as the customer’s entitlement to recover the input VAT may be dis-applied where the payment remains outstanding for more than six months.
- Cash accounting scheme
If your business’ annual taxable turnover is £1,350,000 or less, you may be eligible to join the VAT cash accounting scheme. Under this scheme, you account for VAT on your sales on the basis of payments you receive, rather than VAT invoices you issue. This is different from the normal rules that require you to account for VAT when you issue a VAT invoice, even if your customer has not paid.
However, if you choose to use the scheme, you can only reclaim the VAT incurred on purchases once you pay your supplier.
The scheme could be helpful if you give your customers extended credit or suffer a lot of bad debts.
If eligible, you may use the scheme from the start of your next VAT period without having to make an application to HMRC. You can leave the scheme in the future from the end of a VAT period if you would prefer to revert to normal VAT accounting.
- EU VAT refund claims
Where VAT is incurred by a business in another EU country where it does not have a VAT registration, claims for refunds may be submitted to HMRC (which will be passed to the tax authorities of the relevant EU country). These must be made by 30 September of the year following the calendar year in which the VAT is incurred. Many businesses make annual claims and delay making them until close to the deadline.
Businesses should now consider making earlier claims, and making claims for three month periods rather than a whole year. A claim for January to March 2020 could be made in April 2020. Subject to the time taken to process the applications, this could bring forward payments by around 18 months compared to waiting until near the deadline.
- Pay by direct debit
Once the deferral period is over, paying VAT payments to HMRC by direct debit can give a small cash-flow boost. Payment is taken by direct debit three working days after the normal deadline for payment (which is normally one month and seven days after the end of the VAT period).
- Deferring import VAT
Import VAT due on goods imported from outside the EU is not deferred under the COVID-19 VAT deferral. However, if you import regularly you should consider applying for a duty deferment account, which enables you to defer paying your import VAT and customs duty until the 15th day of the month after the import occurs. You will need to give a financial guarantee to cover your deferred liabilities, but you may be able to reduce the guarantee given for VAT under Simplified Import VAT Accounting (SIVA) arrangements.
For more information or assistance in this area, please feel free to contact a member of our specialist VAT and indirect tax team.