New VAT rate for hospitality and leisure

To help the hospitality and leisure industries recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, a reduced rate of VAT of 5% applied from 15 July 2020 until 30 September 2021. This rate has now come to an end, and a new reduced rate of 12.5% applies from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022. The rate of VAT applicable to this sector will return to the standard rate of 20% from 1 April 2022.

Supplies benefitting from the reduced rate

You are able to take advantage of the reduced rate of 12.5% if you make supplies of any of the following:

  • food and non-alcoholic beverages sold for on-premises consumption, for example, in restaurants, cafes and pubs;
  • hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic beverages;
  • sleeping accommodation in hotels or similar establishments, holiday accommodation, pitch fees for caravans and tents, and associated facilities; and
  • admissions to cultural attractions that do not already benefit from the cultural VAT exemption, such as theatres, circuses, fairs, amusement parks, concerts, museums, zoos, cinemas, exhibitions and other similar cultural events and facilities.

However, if the admission to an attraction is within the existing cultural VAT exemption, the exemption applies rather than the reduced rate of VAT.

Contact us

If you operate in the hospitality and leisure sector, please get in touch with us to check that you are applying the correct rate of VAT to any supplies that you make.

Tax checks for licence renewal applications

From 4 April 2022, applicants applying to renew certain licences will need to pass a tax check before their licence application can be considered. Initially, the requirement will only apply in England and Wales. However, the Government have consulted on extending the requirements to Scotland and Northern Ireland from 2023.

Licences affected

Tax conditionality (the need to pass a tax check before a licence is renewed) will apply to licences to:

  • drive taxi and private hire vehicles (such as mini cabs);
  • operate a private hire vehicle business;
  • carry on the business of a scrap metal dealer on a site; and
  • carry on business as a mobile collector of scrap metal.

The check will only apply to licence renewal applications, not to first-time applications. However, the licensing authority will need to provide first-time applicants with information on what they need to do to comply with their tax obligations, and check that the applicant has received that information, before considering the licence application.

Nature of the tax check

The new tax check will apply in addition to the existing requirements imposed by the licensing authority. The purpose of the check is to confirm that the applicant is registered for tax. The check should only need to be completed about once every three years.

If you are applying to renew a licence on or after 4 April 2022, you will be able to complete the check, which will comprise a few short questions, via your Government Gateway account. The Government are to make guidance on completing the check available on the Gov.uk website. A helpline will also be available.

Once you have completed the check, you will be given a code. The code is important, and you must give it to your licensing authority as they are unable to progress your licence renewal application without it.

HMRC will inform the licensing authority whether you have passed the tax check. However, they will not provide them with any details of your tax affairs.

Plan ahead

In preparation for the introduction of tax conditionality, it is advisable to ensure that your tax affairs are in order, and get them up to date if they are not. HMRC have published a communications pack explaining what this will mean for licence applicants. It is worth a read.

We can help

If you will be required to pass the tax check in order to renew a licence that you need to operate your business, we can help you ensure that your tax affairs are in order.

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