Getting VAT back without a VAT receipt

VAT Receipt
VAT Receipt

If you’re VAT registered, you can normally only reclaim VAT on purchases made for your business when you have a valid VAT invoice for the purchase.

Yet there are some occasions when it is really difficult to get a VAT invoice from the retailer. Supermarkets are a good example. 

Many business owners regularly make business purchases from a supermarket that include VAT. Stationery, printer ink, USB sticks and cleaning materials are just a few of the things we bought last month. However, ask the checkout bod for an itemised VAT receipt and you are met with a blank look.

The good news is that you can reclaim VAT on such a purchase under £250 by calculating the VAT amount yourself.

What needs to be on the Receipt?

You must keep a till receipt which shows

  • The name of the retailer
  • The address of the retailer
  • The VAT registration number (often found on the back)
  • A description of the goods purchased
  • The date of sale (tax point)

Different supermarkets/retailers have different ways of noting which items are VATable. Tesco and Sainsbury put an asterix or ‘V” next to the item for example. You calculate the VAT by multiplying the purchase amount by 1/6. We will tell you why to use the 1/6 fraction further down in this post. 

i.e. you purchase a printer from Tesco for £79.99. The VAT you can reclaim is

£79.99 * 1/6 = £11.91.

Why is the VAT fraction 1/6?

The current UK VAT rate is 20%. So, say your business buys some VAT inclusive goods for £120, the easy way to think of this is a pre VAT cost of £100 plus VAT at 20% = a selling price of £120.

If we go back to school and express this as a fraction…

VAT = £20

Selling Price = £120

Express this as a fraction : 


And then divide both amounts by 20 = 


So, take your £120 , multiply by 1 and divide by 6, and this equals £20. 

Simple eh?

How we can help…

Bookkeeping service

VAT returns

Related blog post…

What proof do you really need to reclaim VAT?

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