Contractor's Tools
IR35 News
Recruiter FAQs

Are you switching from Limited Company to Umbrella Employment? Click here to calculate your take home pay >>

We have created an information hub to support our Orange Genie Accountancy clients, our Umbrella Employees and agencies where the Covid-19 rules and legislation are explained for recruiters, contractors and the self-employed. Click here to find out more>>

The Flat Rate VAT Scheme

What is the Flat Rate VAT Scheme?

The Flat Rate Vat Scheme (FRS) is an alternative to standard VAT registration, open to businesses with an expected turnover of less than £150,000 (£180,000 including VAT).

Download our FREE Contractor's Guide to VAT>>

Under the scheme, you charge VAT to your clients at the standard rate of 20% and you pay HMRC a lower percentage of your VAT inclusive turnover. Unlike standard registration, you do not offset VAT paid by your business. The percentage used depends on your business activity and the corresponding FRS category.

Recent changes to the scheme

 In April 2017, the government introduced a new flat rate category of 16.5% for businesses who fall into the definition of a "limited cost trader".

The government made this change because they believe that the Flat Rate VAT scheme has been abused in certain sectors where a limited company is used solely for the purpose of accessing the Flat Rate VAT benefit for a worker who is caught by IR35. However, genuine contractors across all market sectors will be impacted by the changes.

Who is classed as a Limited Cost Trader?

The new Flat Rate percentage applies to “limited cost traders”. HMRC guidance defines a business as a “limited cost trader” (LCT) if thier VAT inclusive expenditure on relevant goods is either:-

  • Less than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover in a prescribed accounting period
  • Greater than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover but less than £1,000 per annum if the prescribed period is one year (if not the £1,000 is pro –rated)

The meaning of relevant goods in this context is not defined in the legislation and therefore takes its everyday meaning and generally covers tangible items.

The legislation specifically excludes the following from the definition of “relevant goods”:-

  • Capital expenditure on equipment
  • Food and drink
  • Vehicles, vehicle parts and fuel

This affects a large number of contractors and freelancers as many of you have minimal vatable expenses, certainly in relation to the purchase of goods.

What impact does the change have on your income?

For many contractors this change meant a reduction in company profits and therefore take home pay. For example:

John is an IT Consultant. He is registered for Flat Rate VAT and is in his second year of trading so under the old rules he applied the rate of 14.5%
In his accounting period to 30 September 2016, John had VAT inclusive turnover of £140,000 and VAT inclusive expenses of:

Materials £600
Accountancy Fees £1200
Phone £350
Accommodation and subsistence £5,000

John made a surplus on the Flat Rate VAT scheme of £3,000


Post April 2017, John is classed as a “limited cost trader”

His expenditure on “goods” is £600 including VAT and as this is less than 2% of the £140,000 VAT inclusive turnover he falls into the definition. His other costs are deemed to be services.

Under the new rules, assuming John's business performs exactly as it did last year, he will make a surplus of £233

This is a reduction in profit for the year of £2,767

What should you do next?

Talk to your accountant. Depending on your circumstances and the industry you operate in you will have some choices:-

  • If your turnover is below the VAT threshold you can choose not to register for VAT
  • If you need or want to register for VAT you can choose to join the Standard Scheme or the Flat Rate Scheme
  • If you are on the standard scheme and are considering the flat rate talk to your accountant to see if it will still be beneficial 

For more information about the Flat Rate VAT Scheme, or to find out how Orange Genie Accountancy can help you and your business, please call us on 01296 468185 or email

Why Orange Genie Accountancy?

Orange Genie Accountancy offers fixed fee accountancy packages to contractors and freelancers. Each client has unlimited access to their own dedicated approachable and friendly accountant. All Orange Genie Accountancy accountants are specialists in the contracting market, so they can give you bespoke, high quality advice.

We will always keep you informed about anything that could affect you and your company. Our relationships with our clients are extremely important to us so we'll be in touch often, whether it be face to face, over the telephone or email.

Our packages start at £75 + VAT a month for an online service. Our most popular package is £120 + VAT a month which provides you with your very own dedicated accountant as well as:

  • Unlimited accountancy support
  • Face to face meetings so we can get to know you and understand your contracting goals
  • Proactive contact
  • Director and employee payroll
  • Annual Return
  • Self-Assessment Return
  • A fully compliant service so you are safe in the knowledge that you are meeting your legal obligations

​And much more, includingaccess to wealth management advice, IR35 reviews and pensions planning. 

If you would like to appoint Orange Genie Accountancy as your accountants please either fill out our enquiry form or give one of our friendly expert accountants a call on 01296 468 185 or email

Request a Call Back from Orange Genie

If you would like to find out how Orange Genie could help you. Please fill out the form below and one of our new business team will be in touch.

Request a Call Back