VAT changes to face value vouchers: what businesses need to know before Christmas

2 minutes to read
Earlier this year, the tax point for promotional and retail vouchers moved from the point of redemption to the point of sale, leading to implications for a variety of retailers. With the festive season well underway and demand for vouchers reaching its peak, we have highlighted the changes businesses should be aware of, both now and going forward.

Brent Goodwin

From 1st January 2019, an EU directive was implemented across the UK with the joint aims of simplifying the rules for the tax treatment of vouchers, and preventing double or non-taxation of goods and services relating to vouchers.

Under the new rules, vouchers issued on or after 1st January this year which have been paid for, and will be used to purchase something, fall into one of two categories:

Single Purpose Vouchers (SPVs)

A voucher is an SPV if, at the time of issue, the place of supply is known and the voucher can only be used to purchase goods or services at the same single rate of VAT.

Multi-Purpose Vouchers (MPVs)

These are vouchers which do not fall within the new SPV criteria.

This is a widening of the definition of an SPV and means that, in many cases, issuers should be accounting for VAT at an earlier date than was previously the case.

There is also a change in the treatment of MPVs, such that the supply for VAT purposes will only take place when the voucher is redeemed and VAT must be accounted for by reference to the price paid by the last purchaser of the voucher – or, if that price is not known, the face value. The other significant impact is that intermediaries who merely purchase and re-sell MPVs in their own name will not have to charge VAT, as the sale will not be classed as a supply for VAT purposes.

Whilst this change will have little or no impact for the end consumer, it is a significant one for businesses who provide vouchers – particularly those who sell the majority of their gift cards or tokens in the run-up to Christmas, and may not yet be aware of the new rules.

Our VAT Manager, Brent Goodwin, explains: “What this change means in practice is that retailers are now liable to account for VAT whenever a single purpose voucher is sold, regardless of when – or even whether – it is cashed in.

“This places the VAT accountability on the business selling the voucher at an earlier point in the process than previously, which retailers should bear in mind when planning ahead for the financial year end and preparing to submit their tax returns.”

For further information, please call our Leicester branch on 0116 254 9262 or our Loughborough branch on 01509 263500.